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Help Fighting 4 Families

February 28, 2010 permalink

Andrew Skinner Fighting 4 Families is looking for active people in Hastings County (Quinte) that want to get involved with advocacy and network with others in the community.

We will be working directly with citizens in the Belleville, Trenton, and Bancroft areas.

Those interested can contact us through Facebook or send an email to:

February 28, 2010

Source: Facebook

Me Too!

February 28, 2010 permalink

Poor Andrew Koster is complaining that Brant did not get any of the recent handouts to children's aid societies. His agency is still $600,000 short.

Here are some suggestions for Mr Koster. The article says: "In addition, in parts of Brant County and Six Nations, workers are now sent out in twos for the sake of safety. Again, the extra staff isn't funded". If CAS provided true help to families, instead of family death penalties, there would be no security requirements. Taking children from Rob Ferguson and Kalena Mallon including costs of investigation, apprehension, litigation, foster care and adoption must be running around a third of the deficit. Leaving the Fergusons and two other families alone would wipe out the deficit.



Brant CAS seeks deficit solution

The Brant CAS won't share in $23 million being doled out by the province to help cover deficits at children's aid societies.

And, with a deficit ranging from $600,000 to $700,000, the local agency is starting to worry, says executive director Andrew Koster.

"This is the most difficult time I've ever been executive director," Koster said this week.

He explained that the agency has already made $1 million in cuts.

The CAS also faces having to deal with paying contracted raises for union employees that are set to kick in with the new fiscal year.

"We've gone as low as we can," he said. "With this climate and this recession, I truly worry about our ability to keep kids safe next year."

And Koster knows about safety. He's been retained by New Brunswick and Manitoba to examine the death of children in care.

He said he finds a direct link between funding cutbacks and those deaths.

About half of the province's child protection agencies with high deficits are sharing in province's emergency funding.

Koster won't complain about help being offered to agencies in worst shape than Brant because "we've all been in that situation at one time or another."

But he said he is pained that proactive work being done locally isn't being recognized.

For instance, a program called family group decision-making is keeping families out of the court system and allowing them to decide what's best for a child. But the two CAS staffers who are running that program aren't funded by the government.

In addition, in parts of Brant County and Six Nations, workers are now sent out in twos for the sake of safety. Again, the extra staff isn't funded.

"In Brant County and other communities there's a growing Oxycontin problem," said Koster. "It's the drug of choice for many of our families."

That means workers can face unstable families and uncertain situations.

"I'm not prepared to reduce staff numbers and take the chance of a child or a staff member being hurt."

Brant MPP Dave Levac is working with the CAS and has been supportive, Koster said.

Levac said he isn't pleased about how the agency is being squeezed. "I regretfully say it's like rewarding bad behaviour and not rewarding good behaviour when we bail out agencies with a deficit."

He said that the Brant CAS is as fiscally responsible as it can be but it still came in with a 2.9% deficit on a $22.6- million budget.

"The government is working on this, trying to change how we're funding. And I'm lobbying for assistance for the CAS to see if Six Nations can become an independent CAS. That would help the budget."

The province tends to offer higher funding to aboriginal offices due to unemployment, drug use and crime issues.

Koster said that the Six Nations branch office has all the infrastructure in place to go out on its own.

"There's a director and 40 aboriginal staff in place. Our internal audits show they have the best scores in intake. They're very skilled professionals and we're very proud of the work they do."

With the outstanding deficit looming, Koster said his board is giving serious consideration to asking for a judicial review of the agency's situation.

The CAS is then given an opportunity to present its case to three superior court judges for an independent decision.

Source: Brantford Expositor

History Shredded

February 26, 2010 permalink

In this news item from last year, Alabama DHR caseworker Joanne Hood Langford testified that it is DHR policy to shred notes regarding a case after a child dies. Protects the child from embarrassment, and protects DHR from responsibility.



Former Bessemer DHR worker faces wrongful death lawsuit involving 14-month-old

A former Bessemer DHR caseworker is the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit this week involving a 14-month-old boy who died while the agency investigated claims that the child was being abused.

Joanne Hood Langford, who worked for the DHR office in Bessemer from 1994 to 2002, is being sued in Jefferson County Circuit Court by county admininistrator Doris Williford on behalf of the estate of Austin Terry. Langford was the caseworker assigned in September 2002 to determine if Austin was being abused.

Austin died on Nov. 4, 2002 after being beaten. The boyfriend of Austin's mother, Chris Wesson, was convicted of manslaughter in the boy's death.

Austin was admitted to Children's Hospital September 6, 2002 with bruises on his face and ears. Family members told hospital workers that he had fallen out of his crib. Officials at the hospital suspected abuse and contacted DHR, according to testimony by Cindy Deerman, a social worker at the hospital during that time. A DHR supervisor assigned Austin's case to Langford.

Leah Taylor, a lawyer for Austin's estate, said today that DHR policy at that time required Langford visit Austin within 12 hours after suspected abuse was reported. Lawyers for the Terry estate contend that Langford's failure to act in a timely manner led to the child's death.

Langford testified that she did not visit Austin and his family until four days after Children's Hospital officials notified DHR of possible abuse because she had not been officially assigned the case.

After meeting with Austin's mother and boyfriend, Langford determined that the child had not been abused, according to the report she filed. Langford testified she did not see the child's medical records that indicated he had been abused until after his death and that she had not spoken with anyone at Children's Hospital about the initial report of suspected abuse.

Langford testified that she followed DHR policy and shredded her notes regarding the case after Austin died. Langford is expected to continue testimony Thursday in the trial.

Source: Birmingham News

shredding documents

Roger Gallaway Speaks

February 25, 2010 permalink

Roger Gallaway

London area residents will have an opportunity on March 11 to hear a presentation by former Sarnia MP Roger Gallaway, an articulate critic of Canada's system of divorce and family law. An earlier announcement that Mr Gallaway would speak on February 11 was a mistake.



An Evening of Awareness in relation to Domestic Violence.

Posted By London Equal Parenting Committee, February 22, 2010

The London Equal Parenting Committee is proud to announce that former Sarnia MP, and Co-Chair of the Special Joint Committee's Report, "For the Sake of the Children", will be speaking at the Crouch Branch of the London Public Library in London on March 11, 2010.

Roger Gallaway's subject title is "Domestic Violence in Divorce: Propaganda and other Fictions".

Domestic Violence industry leaders have also been invited to make a presentation at this event.

Doors open at 6:00 PM, with Roger's presentation running from 6:30 to 7:00. A Question & Answer discussion will follow the speakers' presentations.

The Crouch Library's address is 550 Hamilton Road (just west of Egerton).

The London Equal Parenting Committee offers emotional support and advocacy for all persons involved in separation/divorce and access issues. The Committee's purpose is to ensure and promote a child's right to maintain significant and meaningful relationships with both parents - and all grandparents - after relationship breakdown.

Admission is free.

For more information email or call 519-614-8713.

Source: The Londoner

Crouch Library, London Ontario

Addendum: Here is a poster (pdf) promoting the meeting.

Addendum: The London Free Press announces the meeting.



Ex-MP calls for shared parenting

DIVORCE: Sarnia-Lambton's Roger Gallaway says judges should grant equal parenting except in proven cases of abuse

When it comes to gaining access to their kids, a growing number of divorced fathers say they've been stymied by a police and court system that reflexively views women as believable and men as violent.

It's an emotional topic that dismays many of those who work in the field of domestic violence.

But a growing number of men's groups -- and a private member's bill (C-422) that would amend the Divorce Act by instructing judges to grant equal shared parenting except in proven cases of abuse -- are advancing this view.

One man I spoke to, for instance, says his ex-wife falsely accused him of slamming a van door on her leg. And even though that assault charge was later withdrawn by the Crown attorney, the man says the allegations damaged his reputation during proceedings with a family court judge who restricted his access to his kids.

It's those kinds of situations that the fledgling London Equal Parenting Committee will explore during "an evening of awareness in relation to domestic violence" Thursday at Crouch Library.

The evening's main speaker is Roger Gallaway, the former Sarnia-Lambton MP who co-chaired a 1998 federal report called For The Sake Of The Children, which examined issues surrounding child custody.

"What I find distressing is the lack of objectivity around this whole subject," says Gallaway, who represented his riding for the Liberal party from 1993 to 2006. "There has to be some type of balance put into the discussion. And it's sadly lacking."

Gallaway regrets that none of the 1998 report's recommendations -- including a call for stricter rules regarding the reporting of abuse -- were ever adopted.

"An allegation of violence is a weapon," he says. "And in Ontario we have a zero-tolerance policy, which generally speaking says that when allegations are made, it's the male who's removed (from the residence). And that then casts the die for what will occur in terms of child custody or access."

Gallaway adds that more and more people are starting to realize that more and more deserving fathers are being shortchanged when it comes to contentious custody battles.

"There's a growing constituency . . . that sees what's occurring and knows these men aren't bad people," he says. "So the doubt about what is being said about (so-called) violent men is growing."

Longtime domestic violence expert Peter Jaffe acknowledges "there are cases that involve false allegations, but they're a small minority."

Jaffe insists, however, that there are enough checks and balances already embedded within the justice system to filter out dubious allegations.

"The No. 1 problem we have in 2010 is people living with violence and abuse and not getting help for it," says Jaffe, academic director of UWO's Centre for Research on Violence Against Women and Children. "What's needed is more resources."

What's really needed, of course, is a co-operative culture where estranged parents do what's best for their kids. But that's about as likely as me having a baby.


What: Domestic Violence in Divorce: Propaganda and other Fictions, presented by the London Equal Parenting Committee and featuring Roger Gallaway.

When: Thursday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: Crouch Library, 550 Hamilton Rd.

Admission: Free (for details call 519-614-8713 or e-mail

Ian Gillespie is a Free Press city columnist.

E-mail, read Ian's blog. or follow Ianatlfpress on Twitter.

Source: London Free Press

Addendum: Our contact person forwards an email critical of the London Free Press article from lawyer Grant Brown, who has dropped his family practice. Mr Brown makes his argument with the rare force that engenders simultaneous outrage and laughter



It is mind-boggling that you can, with a straight face, refer to Peter Jaffe as an "expert" on domestic violence - or anything else, for that matter.

Jaffe was a member of a panel in the early 1990s which produced a report claiming that satanic ritual abuse of children was commonplace in North America, and the evidence for this assertion was "recovered memories." "Recovered memory" theory went the way of the dodo bird shortly thereafter, and no evidence of satanic ritual abuse of children was ever found anywhere. Jaffe's credibility should have been in tatters.

Jaffe was also the "expert witness" at the trial of Paul Bernardo who said that Karla Homolka could have been a "battered woman" who was not responsible for the drugging, raping, and murder of several teenage girls, including her little sister Tammy. Never mind that at the time of this incident, holiday videos showed a beaming and preening Karla, totally besotted with Bernardo and not the least bit abused. Jaffe's opinion of Homolka is so repugnant to decent human beings that using him as an "authority" in your newspaper taints you by association. You might as well quote the Grand Poohba of the KKK as an authority on race relations.

You now quote Jaffe saying that false allegations of domestic violence and child abuse are rare. This is utter hogwash, as any criminal defence or family lawyer in the city could have told you. Have you bothered to check Jaffe's sources for this "opinion"? Does he even have any credible sources? Did you not notice that Jaffe is funded by the Ontario Women's Directorate specifically to propagate the lie that women are always and ever the innocent victims of men? (It says all you need to know about the objectivity of his outfit in the title.) What kind of investigative journalism do you engage in there in London?

False allegations are rampant, especially in family law cases. The problem is so serious - due in large part to the kind of biopolitical claptrap advanced by Jaffe in the early 1990s - that in 2000 the Alberta courts instituted a procedure for screening all such allegations by a team of police and child psychologists. This practice was instituted by Madam Justice M. Trussler, Associate Chief Justice of Alberta for Family Law. I appeared before her a few years ago representing a man falsely accused of sexual abuse of his step-daughter. She told me in open court that at least 80% of the cases screened for child abuse - and there are hundreds every year in Alberta - are determined to be "unfounded." (A much smaller percentage actually result in guilty verdicts.) That ratio corresponds with what I have experienced in my own practice of family law.

I take Justice Trussler to be a vastly more credible authority on the subject of false allegations than Jaffe ever will be. Why don't you look for the truth, rather than for some kind of phony "balance" or juicy "controversy" in your stories? You poorly serve your readers by propagating Jaffe's lies.

Grant A. Brown, DPhil (Oxon), LL.B.
Edmonton, Alberta.
(780) 937-1505

Professional Child Abuse

February 25, 2010 permalink

Claude Edward Foulk was the director of a California mental facility, Napa State Hospital, one of America's largest. As such he supervised persons responsibile for determining whether to free patients or keep them incarcerated, administering psychotropic drugs to patients for their benefit (or harm), and advising courts on the mental competence of accused persons.

Mr Foulk had another life as foster parent. In that role he is accused of molesting many boys in his care. Only the most recent case is the basis of prosecution, the older ones are barred by statute-of-limitations. This is another example of big abuse cases coming from professionals, not parents.



Director of Calif. mental hospital arrested for investigation of molesting his foster child

Claude Foulk
FILE - In this photo taken Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009 Claude Foulk, executive director, gestures during an interview in his office at the Napa State Hospital in Napa, Calif. Foulk was arrested Wednesday Feb. 24, 2010 after a five-month investigation for allegedly molesting a foster child in his care for more than a decade.
(AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File) (Eric Risberg, ASSOCIATED PRESS / December 9, 2009)
CHRISTOPHER WEBER Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The executive director of a Northern California mental hospital was arrested Wednesday for investigation of molesting his foster child for more than a decade.

Napa State Hospital Director Claude Edward Foulk, 62, was arrested at the hospital after a five-month investigation by Long Beach police.

The hospital fired him after he was charged Tuesday with 35 felony counts, punishable by up to 280 years in prison.

Foulk was booked into custody in Long Beach. Prosecutors asked that bail be set at $3.5 million, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Lesley Klein said.

The investigation was started in September after a man now in his 40s came forward, Long Beach Police Sgt. Dina Zapalski said.

The crimes were "not work-related," Zapalski said.

Foulk is accused of sexually molesting the boy shortly after taking him in as a foster child at age 10 in 1992. The alleged crimes continued through 2004 after Foulk and the youth moved to Walnut, according to the district attorney's office.

Investigators were also looking into claims from four other alleged victims in Long Beach and Rancho Murietta in Northern California dating from 1975 to 2006, before Foulk began working at Napa State Hospital, Zapalski said.

Prosecutors said the statute of limitations could prevent them from pursuing some other alleged cases.

It could not be immediately determined if Foulk had an attorney.

Foulk was appointed director of Napa State Hospital in 2007. Hospital officials declined to comment.

"We did not know anything about this until Long Beach police came to the hospital and arrested him this morning," said Nancy Kincaid, spokeswoman for the California Department of Mental Health.

She noted the alleged incidents predated Foulk's arrival at Napa State Hospital.

"He was not in one-on-one contact with patients," Kincaid said. "He had no clinical hospital privileges, so he wouldn't have been offering treatment."

Dr. Stephen W. Mayberg, director of the state mental health department, said Foulk had been fired.

Napa State Hospital Administrator Dolly Matteucci is serving as acting executive director while the department searches for Foulk's replacement, Kincaid said.

At the time of Foulk's appointment to Napa State Hospital he was lauded for his lengthy career in mental health services in both the private and public sectors.

Prior to taking the position in Napa, Foulk worked for the state Department of Mental Health as the Chief of Program, Policy and Fiscal Support, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported. Before that, he held positions as chief executive officer and chief operating officer of private community acute psychiatric hospitals, including CPC Horizon Hospital and Clinic in Pomona and CPC Alhambra Psychiatric Hospital in Rosemead, according to a Department of Mental Health news release.

Napa State Hospital is one of the largest state mental health facilities in the United States, with about 1,260 beds for patients. Many of the hospital's patients come from the criminal justice system — including those found not guilty by reason of insanity. No juveniles or child molesters are treated at Napa.

Associated Press Writers Denise Petski and Shaya Tayefe Mohajer in Los Angeles, Terence Chea in San Francisco and Donald Thompson in Sacramento contributed to this report.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Addendum: Convicted.



Ex-hospital director guilty of sex abuse

Claude Foulk
File-This undated file photo provided by the Long Beach, Calif., Police Department shows Claude Foulk, the former director of a mental health hospital who was charged with molesting his foster child is also accused of abusing another of his foster children decades earlier. The adopted son of Foulk, said at his trial on Friday in emotional testimony that his father is a monster who abused him for more than a decade and destroyed his life, forcing him to flee home at age 21.
(AP Photo/Long Beach Police Department,File)

LONG BEACH, Calif. — A former California state mental hospital director was found guilty Thursday of multiple counts of sexually abusing his adopted son in what prosecutors contend was a pattern of preying on young boys that spanned four decades.

A Superior Court jury convicted 63-year-old Claude Foulk of 31 of 35 counts of sex crimes, including lewd and lascivious acts on a child and sodomy by use of force.

Prosecutors say another 11 men also came forward to claim Foulk molested them as children dating back to 1965, but only the son's case could be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations.

Foulk was fired from his post at Napa State Hospital after his arrest last year.

He could face a maximum sentence of up to 248 years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 23.

During an emotional weeklong trial, five now-grown men testified that Foulk abused them for years. They recalled how the man they knew as an uncle and foster father bought them pizza and took them up to a mountain cabin before forcing them to engage in sex acts.

One of Foulk's two adopted sons told jurors Foulk abused him from the time he was 9 years old until he was 21, telling him it was how a man shows love.

The Associated Press is not naming the witnesses because it has a policy not to identify alleged victims of sexual abuse.

One of the men said he was overjoyed about the verdict.

"My heart was beating so fast right before she read it," he said. "He'll rot in jail for the rest of his life and that makes me feel so good."

Foulk, who watched the testimony with a blank stare, took the stand in his own defense and denied the allegations.

Foulk worked as a nurse, obtained a master's in business administration and held previous state jobs before working at Napa State Hospital. He was a foster parent to two boys and adopted two sons.

Prosecutor Danette Gomez argued that Foulk used the foster care system to acquire boys to meet his insatiable sexual appetite, knowing they had no parents to turn to.

She said the years of horrific abuse led the boys to turn to alcohol and drugs and have trouble forming lasting relationships.

Foulk's attorney Richard Poland said Foulk's son, whose testimony was the heart of the case, had a history of lying. He also argued there was a lack of physical evidence, noting there were no medical reports or photographs to back up the allegations.

The investigation into Foulk was sparked when someone reported sexual abuse to police after learning Foulk was head of Napa State Hospital.

Source: Houston Chronicle

Addendum: On February 23, 2011 Foulk was sentenced to 248 years in prison.

Ironic Photo of the Day

February 24, 2010 permalink

Social worker Valerie Mond, bearing a share of the responsibility for the death of Danieal Kelly, lectures prisoners to accept responsibility for their acts.



Ironic Photo of the Day

Valerie Mond
This photo of former DHS supervisor Valerie Mond accompanies a story about Community Education Centers.

This photo accompanies a story on the Courier Post website about Community Education Centers, a Philly-based company providing training services to inmates.

The caption identifies the woman in the picture as Valerie Mond, who was photographed while leading a "character and accountability class" at Hoffman Hall, a prisoner re-entry facility in North Philly.

If Mond's name is familiar, it's because she's mentioned in the Philadelphia District Attorney's 2008 Grand Jury report into the death of Danieal Kelly, the child with cerebral palsy who starved to death while under DHS care.

The report alleged that Mond, a former DHS program administrator, was among the agency's supervisors who "ignored deadlines and DHS policies with impunity" in their supervision of those responsible for overseeing Danieal's case.

Of Mond and other DHS workers, the report noted, "a share of the stain of responsibility for Danieal's death remains on their hands." The child's life, the report concluded, "did not depend on these DHS employees taking heroic action to save her. It depended on them merely to do their jobs."

Mond was not indicted, but she resigned after the report was released, which perhaps was a way of being accountable for her part in one of the most horrifying and heart-wrenching botch-ups in DHS history. It would be enormous evidence of character if she used her own story in the classes she teaches Hoffman Hall's inmates.

Mond, whose voicemail identifies her as working on the "Unity Unit" at Hoffman Hall, did not return my call for comment.

Posted by Ronnie Polaneczky @ 9:02 AM

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

Good News

February 24, 2010 permalink

Dufferin Children's Aid has trimmed the number of children in care since 2006. According to a Banner article, the cut is 30 percent, according to a published chart only 20 percent. Either way, it is a real improvement, and shows that Trish Keachie is curtailing the excesses of the Putman era. We wish her continued success in reducing unnecessary family intervention even more.



Well-being report card released

Trish Keachie, Lori-Jane Harding, Sylvia Jones and Sue Snider
Launching DUCK:. Dufferin Coalition For Kids (DuCK) held its official launch Feb. 12 at Dufferin Child and Family Services. The coalition also unveiled three initiatives including The Well-Being of Children Ages Birth to Six: A Report Card for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph; Dufferin Family Directory website ( and the Positive Parenting Initiative. On hand for the event were (from left): DuCK co-chairs Trish Keachie and Lori-Jane Harding, Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones and Sue Snider, Dufferin County community services committee chair.
Adam Martin-Robbins

The number of children in protective services in Dufferin decreased by 30 per cent between 2006 and 2008. During that same time period, there was 40 a per cent drop in the rate of serious dental problems among children in Junior and Senior Kindergarten in the county.

Those are just two of the hundreds of statistics included in a new report released this month dubbed The Well-Being of Children Ages Birth to Six: A Report Card for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.

“What our hope is for the report card is that agencies and organizations will use it for planning purposes,” said Lori-Jane Harding, program manager for children’s services at Dufferin County, who helped write the report. “We hope local agencies will look at the data ... and start promoting changes.”

The report card was the result of a collaborative effort between a dozen agencies and organizations known collectively as the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Report Card Coalition. It aims to provide data on several factors that impact a child’s “well-being” including health, learning, development and happiness.

The data was drawn from numerous sources, explained data analysis co-ordinator Jane Hall, including Statistics Canada from 2001 and 2006 Census, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Kindergarten Parent Survey, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Parenting Study from 2007 and Early Development Instrument (EDI) results from 2006.

Harding said while much of the data has been available for a few years now, this is the first time it has been compiled into a single document.

According to the report card, 34 per cent of parents in the county feel they need more parental support; up to 30 per cent of Dufferin’s five year olds may be overweight or at risk of obesity; while 31 per cent of Senior Kindergarten students may have difficulty meeting certain “task demands” in Grade 1.

Some of the data contained in the report is broken down by “neighbourhoods” including Orangeville north, Orangeville south, Orangeville east, Dufferin south (Orangeville west and East Garafraxa), Dufferin east (Mono and Mulmur) Dufferin west (Melancthon, Amaranth and East Luther Grand Valley) and Shelburne.

While it provides a comprehensive amount of information on a wide range of factors, the report card does not contain any recommendations for taking action to address areas that may be of concern, Harding said.

“The purpose of the report was to provide the data, but not provide the answers,” she said. “It’s a tool.”

Plans are in the works for two more report cards for children aged seven to 12 and 13 to 18. The first of those is slated to be completed by March 2011.

To view the current report card, visit (local copy pdf).

Source: Orangeville Banner

From the report card:

children served by DCAFS

Disappearing Act

February 24, 2010 permalink

Rallies in support of bill 93 may be sidestepped by proroguing parliament, ending consideration of the bill.



Children’s Aid oversight move faces setback

WATERLOO REGION — A local group pushing for additional oversight of Children’s Aid Societies will soon be facing another setback.

Groups of parents and supporters have held several public protests in the past few months in Kitchener and across the province urging MPPs to pass Bill 93. Another rally is planned for Monday in Cambridge.

But the private members bill, which would allow the province’s Ombud to investigate Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario, could die before it reaches second reading when the Liberal government pulls the plug on this session of government after the Vancouver Olympics.

Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday the Ontario legislature would prorogue next week for a four-day weekend.

The Ontario legislature will shut down Thursday, March 4, and return Monday, March 8, with the throne speech to begin a new session.

Eleven of the 146 bills that have not received royal assent may be carried forward to the next session, but Bill 93 isn’t among them.

“It’s going to have to start the whole process over again,” said NDP leader, Angela Horwath, who brought forward the bill in June 2008. “Sometimes part of bringing these bills forward is to try and put pressure on the government. They become a bit of a lightning rod for people who are trying to create that change. This is what Bill 93 has done.”

Bill 93 has been a rallying point for groups fighting for more accountability and transparency in the organizations that attend to child welfare.

Ontario is the only province in the country that uses an independent, not-for-profit model for its 53 Children’s Aid Societies. Each agency has a local board and is reviewed by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

That model, as opposed to one run centrally by the government, ensures that each agency is accountable to the communities they serve, said Paris Meilleur, spokesperson for Children and Youth Services minister Laurel Broten.

Currently, the Children’s Aid Societies fall under a category of institutions beyond the reach of the province’s ombud — along with hospitals, police, school boards, universities, municipalities and long-term care facilities.

Ombud André Marin said in his 2008-2009 report there were 429 complaints about Children’s Aid made to his office that year and “we are forced to turn away,” those complainants. According to Marin’s report, many felt they weren’t able to challenge Children’s Aid given the cost of lawyers and the fact that the agency had publicly funded legal representation.

Alison Scott, executive director of Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region, said the agency isn’t opposed to appropriate oversight, but there are several mechanisms in place — including the court process, the Child and Family Services Review Board, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and an internal complaints system — already to ensure complaints and concerns are addressed.

“For every level of accountability, it adds an administrative requirement and that really takes away from the time we’re able to spend with the children and families in the community,” she said. “I think that the internal mechanisms are designed to protect clients. I feel they do that.”

The review board has a specific legislative mandate to hear complaints that are based on procedures of Children’s Aid Societies, including if the agency failed to provide a response to a complaint or if something wasn’t accurately recorded. Marin points out in his report that the process is restrictive and his office received 10 complaints about the board itself last year.

Tanya Koch of Kitchener has attended every rally she could to push for more accountability after her own battle with Family and Children’s Services that eventually resulted in her file being closed. She said the current complaints process is complicated and frustrating given that the first person you need to address is sometimes the person you’re complaining about

“By the time that whole process has gone through, you’re sitting there scratching your head thinking, ‘How many times to I have to make the same complaint before it gets addressed?’” she said. “To have someone like the ombud, who is already doing probation officers and post offices etc., he’s used to dealing with complaint processes and it would make it so much easier.”

Horwath acknowledged that there are several review processes in place, but pointed out they’re all still internal to the government. Ontario needs independent oversight of these agencies, she said, adding she’ll likely reintroduce the bill if it’s wiped from the list.

“Often times, families are concerned that their voices are not being taken seriously when it comes to questioning some of the decisions that are being made and the authority that is being used to make decisions,” she said. “From my perspective, this is a change that is long past due. It should have happened a long time ago.”

Rev. Dorian Baxter, the Newmarket-based Archbishop of the Federation of Independent Anglican Churches of North America who has helped organize many of the rallies, said they’ll continue to stage public demonstrations and call for further oversight even if the bill is killed by prorogation.

Baxter, who also the founder of the Court Watch Canada program that helps parents navigate Children’s Aid, said he’s heard countless stories of families who have struggled through the system and felt they had no where to turn. He said there needs to be an independent body “with teeth” overseeing the agencies that can hold them accountable.

The “prorogation delay is not even a hiccup,” he said. “We will pick up the pieces, patiently put them back together and march forward ... It is only a matter of time and time is on our side.”


Source: The Record

Addendum: It is a done deed. The provincial parliament has been prorogued, to be recalled next week. By this act the government has eliminated consideration of awkward bills, including bill 93, without any requirement for MPP's to stick their neck out and vote them down.



Current session at Queen's Park prorogued

Paper flew in the Ontario legislature on Thursday as the current session ended and the house was prorogued.

It prompted a rare paper slide, where reporters mark the end of the session by throwing papers over the edge of the gallery to the floor of the chamber.

The slides have become rare because governments usually prorogue when elected members aren't sitting.

It won't be a long break, as a new session opens Monday with a speech from the throne setting out the government's agenda.

Source: CTV


I Am Your Fake Children's Aid

February 23, 2010 permalink

For a while CAS promoted its I Am Your Children's Aid campaign with a facebook group called Your Children's Aid. It was inundated with criticism to the extent that CAS had to remove the group. While it was still up, the criticism was interrupted by two supportive posts by Heather Meara Paterson, identifying herself as a social worker who had helped children who could no longer stay with their parents.

An anonymous investigator has checked the facts in this case. The name Heather Meara Paterson does not appear on the Register of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. On a separate page we show posts by Paterson, and a letter from the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.

Addendum: Heather Paterson has a YouTube channel and a webpage. Some of the text from her YouTube channel has been appended to the end of her local page. While in posting to Your Children's Aid she seemed proud of her work with CAS, on her consulting pages she makes no mention of it.

Fixcas could never give you these details without help from friends. Thanks to John Dunn for the follow-up.

Child Abuse

February 23, 2010 permalink

In California, Steven Louis Stearns planted a cellphone where it could capture pictures of his teenaged foster daughter undressed. And in the second enclosed story from Delaware, pediatrician Dr Earl Bradley has been arrested for hundreds of sex acts against his clients.

Notice that large-scale child abuse comes not from mom and dad, but from deviants making career choices that allow them access to children in quantity.



Empire man allegedly plants phone to capture video of naked foster daughter

Bee Staff Reports

An Empire man who allegedly planted a cellular phone in his foster daughter’s closet with the intent to capture her naked on video has been arrested, authorities said.

Steven Louis Stearns, 44, was taken into custody at his home in the 200 block of G Street on Sunday night after deputies were called by the juvenile victim about 8 p.m., according to Chief Mike Radford of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.

The foster daughter reportedly discovered the phone in her closet after getting dressed upon her return from a shower, Radford said.

Steven Louis Stearns
An Empire man who allegedly planted a cellular phone in his foster daughter’s closet with the intent to capture her naked on video has been arrested, authorities said. Steven Louis Stearns, 44, was taken into custody at his home in the 200 block of G Street on Sunday night after deputies were called by the juvenile victim about 8 p.m., according to Chief Mike Radford of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. The foster daughter reportedly discovered the phone in her closet after getting dressed upon her return from a shower, Radford said.
(Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department)

“She was terrified because she believed she was being recorded,” Radford said.

Radford said there was video from the phone that corroborated her statement.

The victim was removed from the residence and placed in alternative care.

Also in the house were the suspect’s wife and three children. The children were placed in the custody of Child Protective Services, which then released them to the wife, Radford said.

Stearns was booked into Stanislaus County Jail on charges including annoying or molesting a child under 18 years of age and sexual exploitation of a child.

Source: Modesto Bee

Del. doctor indicted in serial child abuse scandal

Earl Bradley

Delaware pediatrician charged with 471 sex crimes

Prosecutors expect to add more counts to a lengthy indictment against a Delaware pediatrician charged with serial molestation of more than 100 children as investigators urge former patients and parents to come forward.

DOVER, Del. -- Prosecutors expect to add more counts to a lengthy indictment against a Delaware pediatrician charged with serial molestation of 103 children as investigators urge former patients and parents to come forward.

A grand jury returned a 160-page indictment Monday against Dr. Earl Bradley of Lewes with 471 counts of sexual crimes.

The case has shocked the close-knit coastal community of Lewes and the central Delaware town of Milford, where Bradley closed an office in 2005 after police investigated him.

Bradley's attorney, Eugene Maurer, said he would seek to move the trial out of Sussex County. But he said the "real battleground" in the case will be Bradley's mental state, not what is seen on videotapes seized from Bradley's home and office or alleged in the indictment.

Announcing the grand jury's indictment, Attorney General Beau Biden said all of the alleged victims, mainly girls but including one boy, were caught on more than 13 hours of video recordings, some dating to 1998.

"The charges in this indictment are unique in the history of the state of Delaware, as far as I can tell," he said.

The charges against Bradley include rape, sexual exploitation of a child, unlawful sexual contact, continuous sexual abuse of a child, assault and reckless endangering.

Bradley, who was arrested in December and initially charged with 29 felony counts for allegedly abusing nine children, is being held with bail set at $2.9 million. His medical license was permanently revoked by the state Board of Medical Practice last week.

Maurer said he had not read the indictment but was not surprised by the allegations.

"I'm sure they have their reasons for including all these different victims in this indictment," said Maurer, noting that under state law, a single conviction of rape would be enough to put Bradley behind bars for life.

The indictment alleges Bradley was videotaping his sexual exploitation of patients as far back as December 1998. Many victims were assaulted repeatedly, some on consecutive days, according to the indictment, which alleges that one girl was raped more than a dozen times over a period that lasted more than a year.

Authorities would not say whether they think Bradley had videotaped all of his alleged assaults or whether there may be more victims.

"I expect that we will add to this indictment with new charges over the coming months," Biden said.

He encouraged parents and victims of Bradley, "regardless of age or gender," to contact prosecutors, who have sent out about 3,100 letters to Bradley's patients and set up an office in Lewes to handle complaints and direct potential victims and their families to counseling and other services.

Sussex County prosecutor Paula Ryan declined to say how many alleged victims seen on videotape have been identified by name, or to provide an age range. The indictment refers to each alleged victim only as "Jane Doe" or "John Doe."

After years of suspicions among parents and questions about his strange behavior from colleagues, Bradley was arrested after a 2-year-old girl told her mother that the doctor hurt her in December when he took her to a basement room of his office after an exam.

While prosecutors allege regular and repeated abuse by Bradley, the indictment contains a gap of more than a year, from October 2004 to June 2006, in which no alleged crimes are listed.

Biden and Gov. Jack Markell have ordered reviews to determine whether doctors, hospitals, state agencies or law enforcement authorities failed to comply with a state law that requires all such entities to report to the medical licensing board in writing within 30 days if they believe a doctor is or "may be" guilty of unprofessional conduct.

Biden said Monday that those investigations are aimed at determining "how this physician could lurk in our midst for as long as he did."

Source: Washington Post

Father Arrested for Threatening Baby Snatchers

February 23, 2010 permalink

In Indiana Dale R Stephenson has been arrested for defending his family. At least he escaped the death penalty administered to others such as Bryan S Russell and Gene Velasquez for doing the same. The law expects parents to act submissively toward authorities taking their children.



Police: Winchester man threatened to kill officials

WINCHESTER -- A Winchester man has been accused of threatening to kill authorities who removed an infant girl from his custody.

Dale R. Stephenson, 21, 602 Short St., is charged with intimidation, a Class D felony carrying a standard 18-month prison term.

According to court documents, Stephenson approached a Randolph County office of Child Protective Services worker last Thursday and indicated he intended to bring a shotgun to a court hearing set later that day and "shoot the people that had caused all of this."

The documents indicate a two-month-old infant had on Wednesday been removed from the custody of Stephenson and her mother pending completion of an investigation.

Stephenson was arrested a few hours after making the alleged threat and remained in the Randolph County jail Monday under a $25,000 bond. An initial hearing is set for Friday in Randolph Circuit Court.

The Winchester man was charged with battery in August 2008. A change-of-plea hearing in that case is set for April 9 in Randolph Superior Court.

Source: The Star Press (Muncie Indiana)

CAS Applies Funds

February 22, 2010 permalink

Children's Aid of Haldimand-Norfolk, reeling after a talk by Vern Beck, an anticipated Cambridge rally mirroring the success in Kitchener and an announced meeting in Tillsonburg has found a use for the $27 million in supplementary funding for CAS. They are stepping up the I Am Your Children's Aid campaign. Sorry kids, nothing left for you.

The article ends citing executive director Janice Robinson saying: The agency seeks feedback from parents who have come into contact with them by asking them to fill out anonymous surveys. We'd like to see one of those survey forms.



Campaign boosts image of CAS

A campaign aimed at brightening the public image of Children's Aid societies across Ontario is coming to Haldimand-Norfolk.

Called "I Am Your Children's Aid," it includes television and radio advertisements as well as posters.

The campaign features pictures of foster parents and former wards of the CAS who offer testimonials on how their lives were changed for the better thanks to the child welfare agency.

Janice Robinson, executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Haldimand-Norfolk, said her agency will make use of the posters.

"Research shows most people don't know what we do. They see us as an intervention agency," she said.

"We do prevention. We provide free public adoption -a lot of people don't know that."

The publicity campaign was two years in the making, but it comes to Haldimand-Norfolk at a time when public criticism of the agency is reaching a crescendo.

In recent months, angry parents upset with the local CAS have held placard-carrying protests and handed out flyers to the public. Last week, they held a public meeting in Delhi at which a guest speaker from an advocacy group called Canada Court Watch gave advice on what to do if you become a target of a CAS investigation.

They accuse CAS workers of high-handedness, manipulation, and lying in court proceedings.

In an interview, Robinson said having parents lash out verbally against a child welfare agency is nothing new.

"It's part of the territory, it's part of the job," she said.

"It's very stressful for people involved with us, we know that."

The agency seeks feedback from parents who have come into contact with them by asking them to fill out anonymous surveys, Robinson noted.

Source: Brantford Expositor

Everybody is Dead

February 22, 2010 permalink

At age 39 former foster child Cherry Kingsley describes her life as a sex worker. Her most important quote casts light on career prospects for foster graduates: “Everybody I grew up with is dead. Dead by suicide. Murdered. AIDS. Drugs. Everybody's dead.”



Vancouver 2010

Sex trade an open book during Games

Cherry Kingsley
Sex-trade worker Cherry Kingsley is taking part in the Living Library project during the Olympics at 33 East Hastings in Vancouver, BC.
Laura Leyshon for The Globe and Mail

Wendy Stueck

Cherry Kingsley's life story is an open book.

Until the end of the month, Ms. Kingsley will be part of a “living library” put together by Atira Women's Resource Society, a non-profit housing agency in the Downtown Eastside.

Ms. Kingsley, 39, is, on occasion, a sex-trade worker. She prefers that term to prostitute. She's a mother and an injection drug user who's currently on methadone. She's a former foster child who cycled through more than a dozen homes when she was growing up in Ontario. She's been a spokeswoman for prevention of child abuse.

She knows some people have raised their eyebrows over people being seen as books. She hopes some good will come of it.

“I want the sex trade to be talked about in an intelligent way, I want women to be talked about in an intelligent way,” Ms. Kingsley said in a recent interview in a Hastings Street store that will serve as the “library” during the Olympic Games.

“We have to get a grip on the violence. We have to do better than we're doing now.”

The human library concept began in Copenhagen a decade ago, when a youth group put together an event that matched human “books” with borrowers as part of an anti-violence campaign.

Since then, the concept has spread around the world.

New Westminster's Douglas College launched the first in Canada in 2006.

It proved such a hit that the college maintains the “collection” online, and next month will launch a series with the Coquitlam Public Library that will feature, among other “titles,” a police officer, a midwife and a funeral director.

Participants in Atira's Living Library project have volunteered.

Those who are employed will not be paid; those who aren't working, including Ms. Kingsley, are to receive $50 gift certificates for groceries and other basics at the end of each week.

The project is advertised at Downtown Eastside Connect, a government-funded information centre on the neighbourhood.

About a dozen people are involved.

In her first session as a book, Ms. Kingsley answers a barrage of questions. She arrived in B.C. when she was 14, a runaway with an older man. She recalls walking down Davie Street, wide-eyed at the palm trees on English Bay.

That night, her companion told her they were out of money and that she'd have to go to work. She understood what that meant.

Cherry Kingsley is her real name. “It's on my birth certificate,” she offered.

There is no one type of man who buys sex.

There are drunken, young men on a tear, husbands with baby seats in the back of the car and violent misfits, the guys who show up on the neighbourhood's bad date list.

She supports the idea of brothels, saying they would allow women like her to avoid the dangerous alleys and rooms where they now ply their trade.

Asked if she's ever been attacked or beaten, she said she's managed to avoid some of the worst trouble. But she knows many who haven't.

“Everybody I grew up with is dead. Dead by suicide. Murdered. AIDS. Drugs. Everybody's dead.”

It's not known if any of the foreign journalists descending on Vancouver during the Games will take advantage of the library.

They can walk a block in any direction from the storefront and find all the scenes they need to put together a warts-included portrait of the neighbourhood.

And the venture could fizzle if the “books” decide the interviews are too time consuming, humiliating or painful.

Ms. Kingsley doesn't know if anybody will show up at the Living Library.

If they do, she thinks she could do up to three interviews a day.

She answers all questions, but some bring her to tears.

Source: Globe and Mail


February 21, 2010 permalink

Travelers to poor countries are advised against giving a gift to a beggar. Reason: One small gift will soon produce a mob of followers begging for more.

Now that Laurel Broten has given in to the demands of Ontario's children's aid societies for more money, the press throughout the province is carrying articles filled not with thanks, but with demands for even more. The enclosed article from Dufferin quotes Trish Keachie asking for another $300,000 to cover her cost overruns.



Provincial funding boost cuts DCAFS deficit

Financially strapped Dufferin Child and Family Services got a significant shot in the arm last Friday with an infusion of more than $822,000 in one-time funding by the provincial government.

DCAFS executive director Trish Keachie welcomed the news, but added the children’s aid agency will still finish its 2010 fiscal year with a deficit of about $300,000.

The new provincial funds “do not fully cover our deficit,” Ms. Keachie said in an interview Wednesday. “But, on a relative basis to other agencies, we did very well.”

The DCAFS financial woes hit home in the final quarter of 2009, when it learned the government would be providing $23 million less to children’s aid societies (CASs) than it had given in the previous fiscal year.

DCAFS was one of 36 children’s aid agencies across the province that filed for a Section 14 review, which meant it would not be able to balance its mandate to protect children with the funding by the province. The DCAFS was projecting a $1.1 million deficit for its current fiscal year, which ends Dec. 31.

It faces a similar deficit in 2011.

This recent cash infusion is a result of the Province providing $26.9 million in one-time funding to CASs that, in its estimation, face the “most immediate financial challenges.”

In a press release issued earlier this week, the government said the funds, issued through the Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare, aims to strengthen service delivery, promote financial sustainability, and improve outcomes for the children, youth and families who receive child protection services.

The government said the additional funding includes $2.5 million for Aboriginal CASs, in recognition of the unique challenges that Aboriginal children and youth face.

The fresh funding gave a reprieve of sorts to DCAFS. Still, Ms. Keachie cautioned that the agency is “not out of the woods yet.

“We will still be $300,000 in deficit at the end of the year and we are certainly experiencing the effects of the recession. We’ve been very busy this year.”

One challenge the local agency faces is a cap on funding to finance its infrastructure needs, which include such fixed expenses as maintaining the building it leases on Riddell Road.

One way to ensure that infrastructure costs will be lower in years to come is to buy the building, an endeavour Ms. Keachie estimated would require about $822,000.

“We will be living within our means,” she said, “but we will need to lower our infrastructure costs.”

Source: Orangeville Citizen


Vern Beck in Tillsonburg

February 21, 2010 permalink

Public Info Session on "How to Protect YOUR FAMILIY from the Children's Aid Society"

March 4th 2010 at 7 p.m. Tillsonburg Library ( Library Lane )

Guest Speaker "VERN BECK OF CANADA COURT WATCH"......... a powerhouse presentation including topics such as Electronic recording of WORKERS, CONVERSATIONS, LAWYERS, AND COURT PROCEEDINGS

Sponsored by Voices of Innocent Familes in Ontario

Source: Facebook

The library is at 2 Library Lane in Tillsonburg, expand for a map.



Tillsonburg Public Library

Addendum: Here is a report from Canada Court Watch:



Public meeting in Tillsonburg a success

(March 1, 2010) A public meeting for children and parents affected by the child protection system in Ontario was a big success with the room filled to near capacity at the local library.

Two teens in care of the CAS described how they felt that they were being controlled and manipulated by CAS workers but were living in fear of being punished if they said too much about the horrors of their experience in CAS care.

Source: Canada Court Watch

Trojan Laptop

February 19, 2010 permalink

A Pennsylvania school has found a new way to watch its students naked. They gave each student a laptop computer with a webcam that could be operated by remote control. Students were disciplined for actions inside their own home that violated school policy.

You can read the class action complaint (pdf) by primary plaintiff Blake J Robbins. The expand block contains a blog article followed by the school district response, which admits that the remote-control webcams were used.



If this is true—it's damn frightening.

This is one of the more troubling stories that I've read in a long time. What I'm reading is the court filing in a lawsuit against the Lower Merion School District, on behalf of the minor, Blake Robbins, filed by his parents.

The school district issued laptops to the students. The laptops had webcams installed. In legalese the suit contends that the school district has "been spying on the activities of Plaintiffs and Class members (Blake and other students)" through the "indiscriminant use of and ability to remotely activate the webcams incorporated into each laptop issued to students by the School District." '

The law suit contends that none of the literature given to students and their parents contains any reference "to the fact that the school district has the ability to remotely activate the embedded webacam at any time the school district wished to intercept images from that webcam of anyone or anything appearing in front of the camera at the time of the activation."

In other words, the government school district issued laptops to students and the district could activate the webcam and use it to spy on students anytime the computer was turned out. This was done without informing people this was possible and can be done without the knowledge of the computer user. Consider where students are likely to have their computers. It is not unusual for a student to take a laptop into their bedroom, where they undress, change clothes and engage in otherwise, very private activities. Yet school district bureaucrats can remotely use the students laptop to watch these activities.

This new method of spying on students, in the privacy of their home, was revealed when Blake was told by the Assistant Principal of Harrington High School, Lindy Matsko, that he "was engaged in improper behavior in his home." As proof of this improper behaviour the school showed him "a photograph from the webcam embedded in minor Plaintiff's personal laptop issued by the School District."

Blake's father, Michale, "verified, through Ms. Matsko, that the School District in fact has the ability to remotely activate the webcam contained in a students' personal laptop computer issued by the School District at any time it chose and to view and capture whatever images were in front of the webcam, all without the knowledge, permission or authorization of any persons then and there using the laptop computer." Equally important is that this can be done so it "will capture anything happening in the room in which the laptop computer is located, regardless of whether the student is sitting at the computer and using it."

The suit says: "As the laptops at issue were routinely used by students and family members while at home, it is believed and therefore averred that many of the images captured and intercepted may consist of images of minors and their parents or friends in compromising or embarrassing positions, including, but not limited to, in various stages of dress or undress."

Unless the allegations in the suit are entirely invented by the family, which seems unlikely, this indicates a dangerous new method of putting the public under surveillance. The law suit is making claims based on laws that are supposed to protect privacy, due process for surveillance, and similar manners. I think they should go for the jugular.

Let us make a few points to law the foundation for having the School District arrested and tried as sex offenders. The District gave laptops to 1800 teenage students. In the laptop was a webcam that could be turned on by government bureaucrats to observe those students at any time, including in the privacy of their home. Almost 100% of these students will, at one time or another, engage in legal sexual activity in the privacy of their bedroom. By legal I mean either with another teen considered legally capable of consenting, or in masturbatory activity. With 1800 students engaging in such sex acts the possibility that computer will be sitting there is very high. And government bureaucrats may be watching said activity. Thus the School District has created a webcam operation which shows teens engaged in sexual activity.

It is entirely possible that the signals could be intercepted as well, by others, who may view these "sex webcam shows" that the School District created. The School District officials who set up the program, those who implemented the system, and all school officials who may view these webcams should thus be investigated immediately for the production and dissemination of child pornography. All those found involved should be required to register as sex offenders. In teens who engage in "sexting" voluntarily are arrested then why wouldn't it be a crime for school officials to drag teens involuntarily into something equally explicit?

This is precisely what these School Districts do to teens who engages in "sexting." School Districts, that discover that students voluntarily, and consensually, photograph themselves in the nude, routinely have those students arrested as child pornographers. So why should school officials, doing the same thing, but without the consent of the teens involved, be treated any differently? Criminal charges should be filed immediately.

In fact, along with the law suit, I think parents should file criminal complaints against the School District for the recording and dissemination of child pornographer because the District could watch underage students in the nude, or engaged in sexual activity.

The School District admits that the computers came with the remote webcam feature, which it claims, is only used "to help locate a laptop in the event it was reported lost, missing or stolen" and that it is not used "for any other purpose." But Blake was disciplined for improper activity at home, which had nothing to do with a lost, missing or stolen computer. A photo, taken using the webcam, was provided to him as proof of his action. This indicates that the feature was, in fact, used for purposes other than tracking missing computers.

And while the School District says that the webcams will only be turned on, in the future, with the "express written notification to all students and families"—notice it doesn't require their consent, only that they be told it will be done—there is nothing to prevent school officials from turning on the feature, without notification, if only to browse for titillating scenes. What parent would take this sort of assurance seriously?

What the new policy boils down to is that the school district, or individual employees of the district, will have the ability to turn on the webcam at will, but promise they won't do so without warning students in advance. And, if the officials, don't announce they did it, but still do it anyway, how is that monitored? What assurances do parents have that school officials aren't getting their jollies by turning on the webcams during the hours students would be preparing for bed? The School District continues to have the ability to spy on students anytime it, or any one with access to the systems, wishes and all parents get is the promise that this won't be done. In other words, there is absolutely nothing to stop it happening but the solemn promise of a bunch of government bureaucrats—and we all know what that is worth.

posted by CLS at 2/19/2010 12:22:00 AM DiggIt! Reddit Slashdot Slashdot It!

Source: Classically Liberal

Lower Merion School District Announcements

LMSD initial response to invasion of privacy allegation

Updated 2/18/10 5:26 PM

Dear LMSD Community,

Last year, our district became one of the first school systems in the United States to provide laptop computers to all high school students. This initiative has been well received and has provided educational benefits to our students.

The District is dedicated to protecting and promoting student privacy. The laptops do contain a security feature intended to track lost, stolen and missing laptops. This feature has been deactivated effective today.

The following questions and answers help explain the background behind the initial decision to install the tracking-security feature, its limited use, and next steps.

• Why are webcams installed on student laptops?

The Apple computers that the District provides to students come equipped with webcams and students are free to utilize this feature for educational purposes.

• Why was the remote tracking-security feature installed?

Laptops are a frequent target for theft in schools and off school property. The security feature was installed to help locate a laptop in the event it was reported lost, missing or stolen so that the laptop could be returned to the student.

• How did the security feature work?

Upon a report of a suspected lost, stolen or missing laptop, the feature was activated by the District's security and technology departments. The tracking-security feature was limited to taking a still image of the operator and the operator's screen. This feature has only been used for the limited purpose of locating a lost, stolen or missing laptop. The District has not used the tracking feature or web cam for any other purpose or in any other manner whatsoever.

• Do you anticipate reactivating the tracking-security feature?

Not without express written notification to all students and families.

We regret if this situation has caused any concern or inconvenience among our students and families. We are reviewing the matter and will provide an additional update as soon as information becomes available.


Dr. Christopher McGinley

| Posted: 2/18/10 at 4:54 PM | Updated: 2/19/10 at 8:02 AM

Source: Lower Merion School District

Addendum: When the scandal broke school officials tried to minimize the scope of the surveillance, but is has been disclosed that nearly 56 thousand images were taken. Other reports suggest school staffers amused themselves by scanning through the pictures.



Blake Robbins
This image of Harriton High student Blake Robbins was made surreptitiously by a school-issued laptop, his parents say.

Lower Merion details scope of Web-cam surveillance

Lower Merion School District employees activated the Web cameras and Internet address tracking software on laptops they gave to high school students about 146 times during the last two school years, snapping nearly 56,000 images, district investigators have concluded.

In 48 of those activations, images were recovered; 68 showed only the computer's Internet address. The rest showed nothing or could not be recovered.

The images included photos of students, pictures inside their homes, and copies of the programs or files on their screens, the investigators said.

The district will give a full report at a school board meeting on May 3.

In most of the cases, technicians turned on the system after a student or staffer reported a laptop missing and turned it off when the machine was found, the investigators determined.

But in at least five instances, school employees let the Web cams keep clicking for days or weeks after students found their missing laptops, according to the review. Those computers - programmed to snap a photo and capture a screenshot every 15 minutes when the machine was on - fired nearly 13,000 images back to the school-district servers.

"This is where a significant mistake has been made," Henry Hockeimer, the district's lawyer, said at a school board meeting Monday night. "Clearly those trackings should have been turned off earlier."

The data, which Hockeimer presented to the board after making it available to The Inquirer earlier in the day, represents the most detailed account yet of how and when Lower Merion used the remote tracking system, a practice that has sparked a civil rights lawsuit, an FBI investigation, and new federal legislation.

Hockeimer declined to describe in detail any of the recovered Web-cam photos, or identify the people in them or their surroundings. He said none appeared to be "salacious or inappropriate" images but said that in no way justified the use of the program.

"The taking of these pictures without student consent in their homes was obviously wrong," Hockeimer said.

A federal magistrate judge is expected this week to begin the process of arranging for parents whose children were photographed to privately view the photos.

Hockeimer said that the district's internal investigation was ongoing and that the numbers could change. He said the board authorized him to release the information in response to a court motion filed last week by Harriton High School sophomore Blake Robbins, whose lawsuit contends the program invaded his privacy.

In the motion, Robbins' attorney, Mark Haltzman, argued that the now-disabled system surreptitiously collected more than 400 photos of his client - including shots of him when he was shirtless and while he slept in his bed last fall - as well as thousands of images from other students' computers.

The numbers disclosed by the district Monday confirmed that assertion and added clarity.

Lower Merion began using the system after deciding to give each of its nearly 2,300 high school students a laptop. The program started in 2008 at Harriton High School and expanded this school year to Lower Merion High.

In addition to the photos and screenshots, the technology also used the laptop's Internet address to pinpoint its location. The system was designed to automatically purge all the images after the tracking was deactivated.

Hockeimer said that lawyers from his firm, Ballard Spahr, and specialists from L3, a computer forensics firm, have used e-mails, voice mails, and network data to piece together how often, when, and why school officials used the technology.

The "vast majority" of instances, he said, represent cases in which the technology appeared to be used for the reasons the district first implemented it in 2008: to find a lost or stolen laptop or, in a few cases, when a student took the computer without paying a required insurance fee.

About 38,500 images - or almost two-thirds of the total number retrieved so far - came from six laptops that were reported missing from the Harriton gymnasium in September 2008. The tracking system continued to store images from those computers for nearly six months, until police recovered them and charged a suspect with theft in March 2009.

The next biggest chunk of images stems from the five or so laptops on which employees failed or forgot to turn off the tracking software, even after the student recovered the computer.

In a few other cases, Hockeimer said, the team has been unable to recover images or photos stored by the tracking system. In about 15 activations, investigators have been unable to identify why a student's laptop was being monitored.

Hockeimer said that the investigation found that administrators activated the tracking system for just one student this year who failed to pay the $55 insurance fee.

Robbins says he is that student. Hockeimer declined to confirm or deny that.

About 10 employees at the district and its two high schools had the authority to request the computer administrators to activate the tracking system on a student's laptop, Hockeimer said.

Only two employees - information systems coordinator Carol Cafiero and network technician Mike Perbix - could actually turn on and off the tracking. Hockeimer said the district investigators have no evidence to suggest either Perbix or Cafiero activated the system without being asked.

But the requests were loose and disorganized, he said, sometimes amounting to just a brief e-mail.

"The whole situation was riddled with the problem of not having any written policies and procedures in place," Hockeimer said. "And that impacted so much of what happened here."

Robbins has claimed that an assistant principal confronted him in November with a Web-cam photo of him in his bedroom. Robbins said that the photo shows him with a handful of Mike & Ike candies, but that the assistant principal thought they were drugs.

His attorney, Haltzman, greeted Hockeimer's statement skeptically. "I wish the school district would have come clean earlier, as soon as they had this information and not waiting until something was filed in court revealing the extent of the spying," he said.

Michael Boni, the father of a Harriton High School student and a leader of, which is seeking to minimize the expense of the Robbins lawsuit while pushing for a thorough investigation, said of Hockeimer's disclosures: "We welcome the transparency; we see this as a good first step."

He added that his group wants "the school district to be held accountable and, most of all, we want the district to look ahead and develop a set of policies and procedures that makes sure this will never happen again."

Ru Freeman, one of the founders of Parents in Support of the Lower Merion School District, said, "I think it's important for all of us parents to stay calm and wait until all the information is out after the judicial process is complete."

Mike Salmanson, father of a district second grader, said, "The fact that a system that allowed the monitoring of people without their consent was used in such a loose and disorganized way gives me great doubts about whether the school board and the administration realized the serious privacy issues involved."

Hockeimer said Monday night that earlier in the day he met with attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union and concerned parents to fashion a permanent injunction that would lead to "policies and procedures to prevent anything like this from happening again."

Contact staff writer John P. Martin at 610-313-8120 or

Inquirer staff writer Dan Hardy contributed to this article.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

Addendum: Case settled.



School District Pays $610,000 to Settle Webcam Spying Lawsuits


A suburban Philadelphia school district is agreeing to pay $610,000 to settle two lawsuits brought by students who were victims of a webcam spying scandal in which high school-issued laptops secretly snapped thousands of pictures of pupils.

The agreed payout by the Lower Merion School District comes two months after federal authorities announced they would not prosecute administrators.

Prosecutors and the FBI opened an inquiry following a February privacy lawsuit accusing administrators of spying on students with webcams on the 2,300 district-issued MacBooks. The lawyers who filed lawsuits on behalf of two students acquired evidence in pretrial proceedings showing that the district secretly snapped thousands of webcam images of students, including pictures of youths at home, in bed or even “partially dressed.”

In an announcement Tuesday, the Board of School Directors agreed to pay $175,0000 to student Blake Robbins, and $10,000 for former pupil Jalil Hasan. As much as $425,000 in legal fees will be paid to their legal team, led by Mark Haltzman.

“Bottom line, it is time to resolve this matter and ensure that the District’s resources are focused squarely on educating our children,” the district said in a statement. The district has maintained that it only activated the LANrev Theft Track program when a computer was reported lost or stolen.

It said that its insurer, Graphic Arts, had agreed to pay $1.2 million in costs associated with the district’s defense.

The 6,900-pupil district, which provides students from its two high schools free MacBooks, was sued in federal court on allegations it was undertaking a dragnet surveillance program targeting its students — an allegation the district has repeatedly denied.

The original suit was based on a claim by Robbins, a sophomore at the time, that school officials reprimanded him for “improper behavior” based on photos the computer secretly took of the boy at home last fall. One picture shows him asleep at home last October.

That “behavior” turned out to be pill popping. The family said their son was eating Mike and Ike candy, his lawyer claimed.

In all, about 400 photos were taken of Robbins. The tracking software on Hasan’s computer snapped as many as 469 photographs and 543 screenshots of the former senior.

Source: Wired

trojan laptop

Cambridge Rally

February 18, 2010 permalink

There will be a Rally in support of bill 93 in Cambridge on March first.

Support Bill 93 Rally F&CAS Going Down

Causes - Rally
Monday, March 1, 2010
11:00am - 1:00pm
Cambridge Ont
168 Hespler Rd
Please join Chairman of Canada Court Watch, Archbishop Dorian Baxter as he leads a rally at Family and Children Services of The Waterloo Region at 168 Hespeler Rd in Cambridge. This is in support of Bill 93, which would implement oversight by the Ombudsman of Ontario and hold CAS accountable. This event is being held on March 1st from 10 am to 2 pm. Lets make NECESSARY change together....

Source: Facebook (requires membership)

Expand to see a map.



Cambridge Ontario children's aid

Addendum: A video Rallies for CAS accountability (YouTube) supports this rally and the rally in Oshawa on March 19.

Fear of CAS

February 17, 2010 permalink

Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid is cutting compensation to foster homes. The press article below reports that the foster parents "feared reprimand if they went public with their concerns". Another interesting point in the article, it's all about the money, for both CAS and the fosters. The relation between CAS and foster parent is that between buyer and seller, or employer and employee, but with a generous supply of treachery and mistrust. In the event a foster parent develops a true parental love for a child, CAS will take advantage by finding a reason to reduce that parent's compensation. In another part of Ontario, a foster couple that fell in love with their foster daughter was offered the chance to adopt her. They agreed. As soon as they agreed, the foster payments stopped. The adoption was never completed, and the girl reached age of majority still in the foster home. While the CAS suspended payments, the agency still billed the province for her care.



Compensation changes worry some foster parents

Posted By GALEN EAGLE , EXAMINER STAFF WRITER, Posted January 22, 2010

Changes in the way the Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society compensate foster parents has sparked an angry outcry.

The agency told foster parents in December it planned to revamp its rate system, changing how it would pay foster parents for their expenses in caring for foster children.

During an information session earlier this month, however, the agency's plan was met with strong opposition.

Foster parents are characterizing the change as a direct funding cut that would make it increasingly difficult to care for children.

One foster parent called it a "slap in the face" to experienced caregivers. Another said her reduced pay would cause "devastation" for the children under her care.

The Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society says the changes would not reduce the overall funding given to foster parents. Its intention is to introduce a more efficient, goal-orientated system, rewarding foster parents for the goals they achieve with children, the agency says.

"There's no intent whatsoever to reduce the overall money that we are putting into supporting foster parents, we just want to use it more wisely," CAS executive director Hugh Nicholson said.

"What we want to do is develop a rate system that reinforces and rewards outcomes achieved with children in care and the efforts put into achieving those outcomes."

Currently, foster parents are paid on a sliding scale based on the neediness of the children in their care. Foster parents can upgrade their skills enabling them to accept children with higher needs.

Foster children are currently labelled into six or seven categories based on the type of care they require.

The agency wants to move away from labelling children, resource supervisor Marion Duguid explains.

"Right now we've had up to six or seven levels that foster parents could receive for a child. It makes for a cumbersome, inconsistent system," she said.

"There was a lot of focus on how difficult a child may be. Children ended up being labelled. We wanted to move towards better outcomes for children and focusing on the work a foster parent is doing with a foster child."

Under the new system, foster homes will fall under three categories -- regular, specialized or treatment.

Each home will be undergoing an assessment in the following weeks, Duguid said.

As a result, some foster parents might see a dip in their rates while others might see an increase, she said.

"Overall, it's going to equal out the same," she said.

The Examinerspoke to three experienced foster parents who expect to have their rates cut. Each said they feared reprimand if they went public with their concerns and would only talk on a condition of anonymity.

We have labelled them foster parents A, B and C.

Despite the agency's claims, the new changes will slash the rates paid to many foster homes, foster parent A said.

"I wouldn't say we are being cut, we are being sliced and diced," she said, the anger apparent in her voice. "We are going to get the shells from the peanuts."

After nearly 30 years of raising foster children and upgrading her accreditations, foster parent A fears she will lose everything she has worked towards.

"It has taken me 20 some years to get to the level I am by taking all the courses," she said. "In one swoop I'm back to where I started."

The children under her care are going to have to forgo the standard of living they have maintained in the past, she said.

"They come in and they slash (the rates) down to poverty level, how are we supposed to look after the children the way we have been?" she said. "There won't be any money for little extras."

Foster parent B, who fosters four boys ages 11 to 17, said her children will take a financial hit under the new system.

"I think this is definitely a money-saving technique," she said. "We cannot manage with the amount we are given for these boys. We have to use our own money to be able to send the boys off to school looking properly dressed."

Duguid said she understood how some foster families would see the new system as a rate cut, but those who put in the work will benefit with rate increases, she said. All training foster parents have achieved will still be recognized, she added.

"I really view this as an opportunity to recognize foster parents for the hard work that they are doing with children," she said. "This will be an opportunity for them to apply what they have learned."

But foster parents should not get into fostering looking to make money, she said.

"One of the very first things we tell people is this is not to be regarded as an income. Any funds they receive are specifically for the children," she said.

No foster parent with a right mind gets involved to make money, retorted foster parent C.

Predominantly raising troubled teens, she said the rates rarely take into consideration the many costs associated with raising teenagers.

"Teenagers, they break things, they steal things and I don't believe we are compensated enough," she said.

Her rates will drop $11 per day, per child under the new system, she said.

The revamped rate system was set to take effect Feb. 1, but was pushed back one month after a backlash from foster parents.

"When people have issues, we do listen to them. That's why we are taking the extra month," Nicholson said. "We have listened to them and we are now sitting down saying how can we make this a little bit smoother."

Nonetheless, the new changes will become reality, he said.

"Our major goal is outcomes for children. That's what we're all here for," he said.

The initial implementation is going to be the biggest challenge, as foster parents grapple with change, Duguid said.

Once the system is in place, however, Duguid anticipates foster parents will embrace it.

"I do believe it will be seen as the opportunity that it is," she said.

Foster parent B said the agency will face an uphill battle trying to sell the new system.

"Experienced foster parents are looking at this like a slap in the face," she said.

Foster parent C said she recently refused to take in a child, something she hasn't done in the past.

"I'm just feeling angry and so is every other foster parent," she said.

Most foster parents will either have to dig deeper into their own pockets or turn away children who desperately need their care, foster parent A said.

"(CAS) counts on you not saying 'I quit,'" she said. "Because you care for the child, they count on the fact you're not going to walk away."

Source: Peterborough Examiner
pointed out by John Dunn

Father Charged for Taking Daughter to Church

February 16, 2010 permalink

Father Joseph Reyes faces jail time for taking his three-year-old daughter Ela to church. Also, ABC 20/20 broadcast February 26, 2010. [1] [2] (flv).



Dad Pleads Not Guilty on Violating Court Order For Taking Daughter to Church

Chicago Man Could Get 6 Months Jail in Custody Dispute Over Religious Services


A Chicago man who defied a court order and took his toddler to a Catholic Church service was arraigned today on a charge of indirect criminal contempt in a custody battle that is threatening to put him in jail and draw new boundaries in divorce cases.

Joseph Reyes pleaded not guilty for allegedly violating a court order issued by Chicago family law Judge Edward R. Jordan who had barred Reyes from taking his 3-year-old daughter to church following a dispute over religion with his estranged wife. Reyes' wife, Rebecca Reyes, is Jewish.

Reyes, a veteran of the Afghan war, made a motion to have his contempt charges heard by a different judge, a motion that was granted. He was arraigned before Judge Elizabeth Loredo-Rivera.

If found guilty of indirect criminal contempt, Reyes could be sentenced to up to six months in jail.

The next court date is on March 3, when Reyes is expected to file a motion to dismiss all charges against him.

In a statement issued after the hearing, Reyes said, "There's a strong possibility I could end up in jail. It's really sad it's come to this."

Reyes and his wife are in abitter divorce battle, and the question of what faith their child should be raised in is pushing the boundaries of child custody arrangements.

Reyes' decision to baptize his daughter without his wife's permission resulted in what some are calling an extraordinary court order: Jordan in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., imposed a 30-day restraining order forbidding Joseph Reyes from, according to the document, "exposing his daughter to any other religion than the Jewish religion. …"

The couple married in 2004. Joseph Reyes was Catholic, but he converted to Judaism to please his in-laws. He has said the decision wasn't "voluntary."

Despite his conversion, Reyes, 35, said he never stopped practicing Catholicism.

Man Baptized Daughter Without Informing Estranged Wife

When the marriage fell apart, Rebecca Reyes, 34, got custody of their daughter. The girl, now 3, has been raised Jewish and attended a Jewish preschool.

Her father decided to baptize his daughter without consulting his wife.

Joseph Reyes sent his wife pictures and an e-mail documenting the occasion. Rebecca Reyes responded by filing for the temporary restraining order, which the judge granted.

Stephen Lake, Rebecca Reyes' attorney, said his client was shocked at her estranged husband's actions.

"Number one, it wasn't just a religious thing per se, it was the idea that he would suddenly, out of nowhere without any discussion … have the girl baptized," Lake said. "She looked at it as basically an assault on her little girl."

Furthermore, Joseph Reyes had never been a particularly devout Christian, Lake added.

When the girl's father took her to church again in violation of the order, he called the media to witness the event.

A court could rule today on whether Reyes should be jailed for criminal contempt, but he contends he did nothing wrong.

"Going to church, I don't think I violated the order," he told "Good Morning America." "In terms of Judaism, based on the information I was given, Catholicism falls right under the umbrella of Judaism."

Joseph Reyes
A veteran of the war in Afghanistan could find out today if he'll get jail time for taking his daughter to church in defiance of a Chicago family court order obtained by his estranged wife. The couple is in a bitter divorce battle, and the question of what faith their child should be raised in is pushing the boundaries of child custody arrangements.
(ABC News)

Woman's Lawyer Accuses Reyes of 'Power Play' With Baptism

In a YouTube video of the subsequent visit to church, Joseph Reyes says, "I am taking her to hear the teachings of perhaps the most prominent Jewish rabbi in the history of this great planet of ours."

Lake, Rebecca Reyes' attorney, said Joseph Reyes had never been a particularly devout Christian.

"This was just something that he knew was going to have a negative effect on [Rebecca Reyes], and I think that's why he did it," Lake said, speaking of Reyes' church visits with the little girl.

"I think he was just trying to exert some power," Lake said.

But Reyes, who is studying law, said he only wants to be a good father to his daughter and expose her to his faith. That's something the courts usually allow in divorce cases, experts say.

Eugene Volokh, a professor at the UCLA School of Law, said a parent who has visitation rights "usually has the right to expose the child to his religious beliefs, teach the child his religion, to take the child to religious services, unless there seems to be likely psychological or physical harm stemming from that exposure."

Family court law expert Lynne Gold-Bikin said Reyes should have followed the court order, but also said, "If this couple made an agreement about what religion to raise their child, then it's an inappropriate order."

Reyes: Conversion Wasn't 'Voluntary'

Reyes said his faith is important to him.

Explaining his conversion, he said, "I did it because, one, my mother- and father-in-law would not accept me any other way and two, because they would not accept me, it was putting a lot of burden on the marriage."

While he acknowledged that his actions -- flouting the court order and involving the media -- didn't help to end the conflict, he said he has to take a stand.

"I've made every concession that I possibly can make for Rebecca, and I have to draw the line in the sand somewhere and this is where I choose to draw it," he said.

Source: ABC News

Kitchener Rally

February 15, 2010 permalink

A rally took place today outside the Waterloo Children's Aid office in Kitchener. Follow the source link in the expand block to see the CTV video report, including the words of Dorian Baxter.



Waterloo rally

A rally outside Children's Services of Waterloo Region

Updated Mon. Feb. 15 2010 6:32 PM ET

Children's Aid agencies across Ontario are getting much-needed financial help today.

The McGuinty Government announcing it will give more than 22 million dollars to make sure the cash-strapped organization can continue offering services.

But while these agencies are asking for cash ... others are calling for change.

The funding announcement comes on the same day protestors have gathered in Kitchener. They're calling for changes to the way CAS works.

A group of 20 people gathered outside Family and Children's Services of Waterloo Region, hoping to gain support for Bill 93.

If passed ... The Legislature would allow Ontario's Ombudsman to conduct independent reviews of CAS decisions.

People are this rally claim Children's Aid Societies across the province are making "poor decisions" and need to be held accountable.

Source: CTV

Addendum: Here is a short video of the rally (flv) and five pictures. The Record also covered the story.



Family and Children’s Services target of protest

Waterloo rally against children's aid
Peter Lee, Record staff
Christine Sorko-Houle holds protest signs and cries out to passing motorists during a protest in front of Family and Children's Services on Monday.

February 16, 2010, By Valerie Hill Record Staff

WATERLOO REGION — A small group of protesters picketing Family and Children’s Service of Waterloo Region in the bitter winds of Monday morning were demanding public accountability from an agency they believe destroys families. And they had a most unusual advocate.

The Newmarket man who calls himself the Most Reverend Dorian A. Baxter, Lord Archbishop of Yorke, leads a fringe independent Anglican group called Christ the King Graceland. He is also an Elvis impersonator.

While sporting a black Elvis wig and Elvis glasses, he recalled a personal experience with Family and Children Services in Durham Region, in the mid 1990s, when he tried to regain custody of his two daughters after they were taken from the home by their mother. His ex-wife had accused him of sexually abusing the girls and he said the agency never gave him a chance to prove his innocence.

After months in court, Baxter he got full custody and in court he won a financial settlement from Family and Children’s Services. Baxter has since launched a campaign against the agency to protect other families from enduring the same sort of treatment. He also helped found and was in town to support the protestors.

“We need to have justice, transparency and accountability from every Children’s Aid Society across Canada,” said Baxter who, along with the other protestors, carried placards on the sidewalk along Ardelt Road, in front of the Family and Children’s Services office. The group was also calling for the passing of 2008 Bill 93 which Baxter explained would allow the Ontario Ombudsman’s office to investigate Children’s Aid Societies.

Catherine Frei organized the rally for Family Day, a day she said visitors centres where parents have supervised visits with their children were closed for the provincial holiday. Frei was one of those parents, having had her three year old son seized and put into foster care “440 days ago.” She has since had a battle with the society to have her son returned and feels the system is heavily weighted against parents.

“It’s the complete annihilation of the human spirit,” said Frei, a well-spoken journalism student at Conestoga College. “They make you feel like you’re the unsavouries of society.” She also said, there is no recourse for parents with complaints and that even review boards where complaints against the society are suppose to be heard before going to court, is not impartial. Her only recourse now is to hire a child advocate lawyer who will work on her son’s behalf.

Alison Scott is the newly appointed executive director of the society and after only two weeks into the job, she responded to the protestors’ accusations by noting “there are several mechanisms in place” where parents can take their complaints, right up to the court level. Her agency’s mandate is to keep children safe, “we have an obligation to assess risk,” she said adding that parents sometimes view the Society’s work with suspicion.

“We know that families can be anxious and apprehensive when we get involved,” she said. “It’s pretty intrusive.”

Linda Plourde was one of the protestors, having experience with the Catholic Childrens Aid Society when her grandchild was seized from her daughter. Ploude subsequently self-published a book Protecting Canadian Children and in it she accuses the society of seizing children and putting their lives at risk in foster homes, where she said death occurs regularly.

Scott explained the statistics are very misleading, that in fact most of the 90 children who reported to have died in 2007 were medically fragile and died of natural causes while others were cases of suicide or accident. “None were preventable,” she said. Some of the deaths were, by law, reported to Children’s Aid by the hospitals though the agency did not have any involvement with the family or the child.

Having Children’s Aid involved “instills more fear in families,” admitted Scott. “It’s simply not true.”

Source: The Record

Smitherman for Mayor

February 15, 2010 permalink

George Smitherman, candidate for mayor of Toronto, has been approved to be one of two same-sex adopters of a fourteen-month-old boy.

This adoption continues the tradition of the politically powerful taking children from the less-fortunate by force of arms. For example, Michaëlle Jean, Stephane Dion, Jean Crétien and John Roberts. If you are, or know of, the family of the boy being adopted by Mr Smitherman, send word to Dufferin VOCA by email, [ rtmq at ] or phone, 705-744-6274. The story of the losers in this baby-transfer could be enough to keep Mr Smitherman out of the mayor's office.



George Smitherman and husband Christopher Peloso
George Smitherman, former deputy premier of Ontario, is seen with his husband Christopher Peloso in their home on November 12, 2009.

Monday, February 15, 2010 10:52 AM

Smitherman ‘intensely thrilled' to be approved for adoption

by Jane Taber

George Smitherman, who wants to become Toronto's Mayor, is becoming a Dad first.

The openly gay politician and his spouse, Christopher Peloso, are adopting a 14-month-old boy from Toronto.

They are expecting their son on February 26.

The two are in Vancouver for the Games and last night they were at a party at the Labatt Beer Institute where Mr. Smitherman could not hide his feelings, saying he has always wanted to be a father and describing himself as being “intensely thrilled.”

He says he knows, however, that although Toronto is progressive he and Mr. Peloso will receive some negative comments, a backlash from some corners, for their decision to adopt and bring up a child.

The little boy, who the couple has taken out on day trips in the first steps of getting to know him, has lived in foster care since he was born.

Mr. Smitherman and Mr. Peloso went through the adoption procedures and screenings, waiting nearly two years for their son.

The couple, who were married in 2007, is simply thrilled. Warned that their lifestyle will change dramatically with a toddler in their lives, Mr. Smitherman said, “Try being Health Minister for five years.”

He served in Dalton McGuinty's government has deputy premier, Health Minister and Energy Minister. He stepped down last November to seek the Toronto mayor's seat. That election takes place in October.

No bad seats – for Liberals

The figure skating venue last night was packed with politicians.

Former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his wife, Aline were a few seats away from Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and his wife, Zsuzsanna Zsohar.

They were sitting in the front row of the VIP section. Behind them were U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, as well as the American Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson and his wife, Julie.

Ironically, it was the American Ambassador who told the Ignatieffs that Canada had won its first gold medal. Concentrating on watching the Canadian figure skaters, they had no clue that Alexandre Bilodeau had captured the men's moguls Olympic title.

At a reception afterwards – mostly attended by Liberals – Mr. Ignatieff gave a rah-rah, patriotic speech. And he said what everyone was thinking: the Gold medal “monkey” was now off Canada's back.

Meanwhile, Jean Chretien, who was also at the party, mentioned to the crowd that he had called Alexandre Bilodeau to congratulate him.

With impeccable timing, Mr. Chretien was able to speak to the young man between his win and getting to the podium.

And that's because Mr. Chretien's daughter, France Desmarais, who is the chair of the Canadian Olympic Foundation, which helps fund athletes through the Own the Podium program, knows Mr. Bilodeau and was able to reach him on her cell phone.

At 76 years of age, and having been out of politics since 2003, Mr. Chretien is still very well connected.

Source: Globe and Mail

man boy man

Service Above and Beyond

February 15, 2010 permalink

Connecticut DCF hired Mark Swan to provide services to an unnamed woman for three years starting when she was 16 years old. He is now accused of sexual assault against his client.



DCF case worker charged with sexual assault

By John Pirro, Staff Writer, Published: 10:45 p.m., Sunday, February 14, 2010

NEW FAIRFIELD -- State police arrested a 48-year-old case worker for the state Department of Children and Families on Saturday after one of his clients accused him of sexually assaulting her at his home last week.

Mark Swan, of Deer Lane, is being held on $501,000 bond at the Troop A barracks in Southbury and is expected to appear in state Superior Court in Danbury on Tuesday.

Police began their investigation after the 19-year-old alleged victim went to the resident trooper's office in New Fairfield on Saturday and reported that Swan had assaulted her on Wednesday.

Swan had been the woman's case worker since she was 16, and an investigation "supported the victim's claim" that an assault occurred, police said.

Authorities took Swan into custody shortly before midnight Saturday, when a trooper stopped a vehicle that was observed being driven erratically on Route 39 near Bogus Hill Road and found him behind the wheel.

Swan was charged with second-degree sexual assault, unlawful restraint, sale of narcotics, reckless endangerment and harassment, in addition to reckless driving and drunken driving stemming from the traffic stop, police said.

Department of Children and Families spokesman Gary Kleeblatt said Sunday that Swan will be placed on administrative leave pending a departmental investigation and could face disciplinary action "up to and including termination."

Investigators gave no indication whether the sex between Swan and the victim was consensual or part of a continuing relationship, but under state law, a person can be charged with second-degree sexual assault when the victim is under the age of 18 and the accused is either a guardian or is responsible for their general supervision or welfare, or the victim is in custody of the law and the accused has supervisory or disciplinary authority over her.

Kleeblatt confirmed that the victim was "a current client" of Swan's, but said other information about Swan's employment history with the agency wasn't available on Sunday.

A state police spokesman said Sunday that since state offices are closed Monday for Presidents Day, no further information on the case would be released prior to Swan's scheduled appearance in court.

Police said the case remains under investigation by the resident state trooper, the State Police Western District Major Crime Squad and the Department of Children and Families.

Contact John Pirro at or at 203 731-3342.

Source: Danbury News-Times

Alberta Foster Child Fatalities

February 14, 2010 permalink

Alberta lists its Fatality Inquiry Schedule on its government website. The schedules are in four pdf files [1] [2] [3] [4], local copies [1] [2] [3] [4]. Of the 19 persons under the age of 18, 13 have their names obscured because the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act prohibits publishing the name of the child. These are the children who died after the province took responsibility for them. The names are obscured to protect the children from harm, or conceal the culpability of the province, depending on you outlook. A large majority of child deaths worthy of inquiry are from the tiny portion of the population enrolled in foster care.

Source: Thanks to Velvet Martin for pointing out these items


February 14, 2010 permalink

Ontario's efforts to restrain children's aid by cutting their budgets have ended in total surrender by Minister of Children and Youth Services Laurel Broten. Children's aid societies across the province are getting immediate supplementary funding of $27 million.



Ontario throws children's aid $27M lifeline

Agencies watching over most vulnerable kids get money to put them 'on stable footing'

Published On Sat Feb 13 2010

Payukotayno James and Hudson Bay Family Services
Payukotayno James and Hudson Bay Family Services received $2.3 million, allowing the agency to stay open until the end of March 2010 after 120 staff faced layoffs due to lack of funding. (Dec. 9, 2009)

By Tanya Talaga Queen's Park Bureau

Ontario's cash-strapped children's aid societies will get a $26.9 million bailout to keep the agencies afloat until the next fiscal year.

Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten told the Star 26 of 53 provincial societies will receive the money immediately to "put them on a stable footing."

"This infusion of money is a direct response to my commitment that we will not put kids at risk."

An announcement is expected Monday.

For the last few months, Broten has insisted the agencies must cut costs and find ways to get on a more solid financial footing as the province battles a $24.7 billion deficit.

Children's aid societies have argued the funding they receive is based on outdated projections and say if they are not given more, services for Ontario's most vulnerable kids will be reduced.

Last year, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services established a three-person committee of experts to examine why the agencies continue to have money problems at the same time each year and whether the current funding model is working.

"You can't solve these issues in the 11th month of the fiscal year," Broten said.

"We've assessed these funds are needed."

Without proper funding, the agencies warn they will not be able to meet the mandatory standards of seeing children every month, and case workers will assess children's safety and well-being less frequently.

Of the $26.9 million, $2.5 million is earmarked for First Nations children's aid societies in order for them to handle fiscal pressures other agencies do not face – such as high travel costs to get to at-risk kids in fly-in communities, and the exorbitant cost of living expenses in the North.

In December, the Star reported on the teen suicide epidemic plaguing the communities around the James Bay basin. Last year, 13 First Nations youth committed suicide, all by hanging.

The children's aid society in Moosonee – Payukotayno James and Hudson Bay Family Services – has struggled to cope with the suicide crisis while under constant threat of bankruptcy.

Broten came to the aid of Payukotayno in late December, giving it $2.3 million in emergency funding.

The agency's credit line was maxed out and pink slips had been sent to all 120 staff members. The funding bridged the agency until March.

"There are also broad, big, complicated issues we need to continue to work on with these (children's aid societies) and that is why these funds have been allocated," Broten said.

However, the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies say 49 of their agencies were experiencing a $67 million funding shortfall.

Some of the $26.9 million will go to the York Region Children's Aid Society, which faced a $6.6 million projected deficit and cut 18 positions last year. The Simcoe County agency will also receive funding.

By law, the agencies are mandated to protect children, investigate allegations of abuse and neglect, and provide care and adoption services.

Source: Toronto Star

Addendum: Not enough! Give us more! The report describes CAS activities as: "ongoing services such as home counselling and social workers helping to establish plans with other service providers which intervene in the need for residential child care". It never mentions separating parents and children by force of arms.



Provincial funds not enough: CAS

DEFICIT: Share of funding falls short


NORTHUMBERLAND -- Their share of the provincial government's one-time funding announcement of $27-million to Ontario's Children's Aid Societies is not enough to keep the Northumberland Children's Aid Society out of a deficit situation this year. Nor is it enough to pay off the cumulative debt since 2005, says its chief executive officer, Rosaleen Cutler.

The local CAS's projected deficit to fiscal year end March 31, 2010 is still about $550,000 more than the $279,000 in one-time funding announced by Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten last week.

In addition, the cumulative debt 2005-8 adds another $551,000 to the total $1.1-million debt of the local Children's Aid, Cutler said.

This year's anticipated deficit is due to two factors, she said.

The local CAS is providing 10 fewer families each month with ongoing services such as home counselling and social workers helping to establish plans with other service providers which intervene in the need for residential child care. Although the number of investigations and referrals has remained constant year over year -- about 175 cases -- earlier intervention in this way is reducing the length of time the services are needed. It is also keeping the average number of those in residential care to about 100 monthly.

The new system shows the benefits of a community-based plan, but the funding formula penalizes the local CAS, and that is the reason it requested a Section 14 review last year. The results of the review are anticipated in a "couple of weeks," Cutler said.

The local CAS has asked for funding changes that would wipe out past deficits and this year's as well.

In addition, the Child Welfare Sustainability Commission is expected to report in early March and it is looking at funding over several years. The local CAS met with the commission was held Jan. 25.

This year's Northumberland Children's Aid Society operating budget was $10.4-million, but subsequently reduced to $9.1-million by a $230,000 board-adopted cost-cutting plan that included not replacing staff on temporary leaves, cutting travel costs, reducing training (there hasn't been any since last fall) and examining child placement to keep more in family settings and not more costly group homes, Cutler said.

The organization still anticipates spending $9.7-million to the end of next month, leaving the year's debt over half a million dollars even with the recent announcement.


Source: Northumberland Today


Law Amplifies Weak Case

February 13, 2010 permalink

Ron Unruh gives the latest news on the Bayne trial, with skillfully chosen words.

Even a thin case can have the appearance of overwhelming and intimidating evidentiary value when it has been back lighted by a legislated power to remove children and hold on to them until a judicial ruling comes down. It has a perception of strength.

Expand for the whole article.



Saturday, February 13, 2010

For Love and For Justice / Part 110 / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

The Best that Jensen Can Do

Even a thin case can have the appearance of overwhelming and intimidating evidentiary value when it has been back lighted by a legislated power to remove children and hold on to them until a judicial ruling comes down. It has a perception of strength.

In the case of Paul and Zabeth Bayne and three children, Kent, Baden and Bethany, that darkly sinister evidence becomes smaller and smaller as the lumens of the spotlight of truth and justice are ever intensified.

Finn Jensen may have developed his case believing that it was strong. He is certainly a competent lawyer. Even this far into the trial he may be convinced that he can win this. Sadly, that’s what litigation aims at, winning! If he is successful, what will MCFD win? It will win the entitlement to keep the children from Paul and Zabeth permanently. It will win the right to force each of these three children to live throughout their remaining childhood and youth with adoptive parents and never to see their birth parents again, until perhaps one day as adults they opt to make a connection that was severed willfully not by their parents or themselves but by a judge and a ministry of a government under which they live.

Here is the best that Finn Jensen, counsel for the Ministry of Children can do in court.

What kind of evidence do you consider the following testimony to be? Jensen called Mike and Elizabeth Hoffman, a pastor and wife from Hope, B.C. where the Baynes resided at the time that this story began. These couples were friends, sharing faith and worship. The Hoffmans reported to the police and to MCFD in 2007 and confirmed that report with testimony in the trial here in January 2010. Based upon what he had learned in seminary psychology classes Michael Hoffman believed that Zabeth was suffering from post-partum depression and that she had Munchausen's syndrome by proxy, an uncommon condition in which a person harms another in order to gain attention. Consider the nature of this hypothesis that would imply she might do harm to her children. Is that evidence? Hoffman is not a medical or psychiatric doctor. He is not an expert. I know because I have taken seminary psychology. Seminary pysch informs you enough to state an opinion but doesn’t qualify you to make an assessment that is entered as evidence that a woman is a risk to her children. This is specially true now that medical professionals were told in court that they could not state an opinion as to whether the Bayne baby's injuries were accidental or non-accidental. It is Jensen's folly not Hoffman's that this was entered as evidence in a court of law. Hoffman surmised, speculated, supposed, that Zabeth might be suffering from this condition. That is not evidence. Combine that with his wife's testimony and what does Jensen have? Elizabeth gave testimony that the two boys seemed small for their age and that the little girl started looking increasingly listless. Is that evidence? The children’s doctor was more aware than they and was satisfied with the children’s health status. This testimony is in the court transcript and in a CBC online story. Here is a sidelight. From a pastoral standpoint, since I pastored for four decades, I suggest that it would have been prudent and so much more in keeping with the calling of a shepherd to sit with Paul and Zabeth to talk, to inquire, to learn, to offer encouragement and to help and to pray. Perhaps there is even a plausible answer to the course the Hoffmans chose, but is this evidence?

Posted by Ron at 12:01 AM

Source: Run Unruh blog, February 13, 2010

Last week the court heard testimony from social worker Loren Humeny. Mr Humeny based his opinion on six anonymous callers impugning the Baynes. In his assessment that outweighed hundreds of persons who have openly supported the Baynes.

In another post, Mr Unruh announces: Court has now recessed for one week and will resume again on Monday the Feb 22 at 9:30 am. The next scheduled witness is a radiologist and following his testimony social worker Kimberly Grey is to appear most probably on Feb 23. That will conclude the MCFD's witnesses.

Secret Death

February 12, 2010 permalink

In 2007 California enacted legislation providing for full disclosure in cases of children who died while in the care of child protectors. Following some embarrassing disclosures, Los Angeles DCFS has clamped down and refused to disclose more cases to the press. They justify their actions under an exception that, according to the law, may be invoked only by a district attorney, not a social service agency.

Dufferin VOCA has long pointed out that disclosure laws applied to social services agencies are futile, because foot dragging will render them useless. California is a good example.



L.A. County welfare agency refuses to release files on children's deaths

Director Trish Ploehn says a 2007 disclosure law unfairly 'denigrated' her department.

By Garrett Therolf, February 12, 2010 | 5:19 p.m.

Los Angeles County's embattled child welfare agency has clamped down on the release of information about 12 recent deaths among children who have passed through the child welfare system.

The decision follows a series of articles in The Times last year that detailed flawed casework. The cases prompted some reforms at the county's Department of Children and Family Services, including enhanced training for social workers.

But the state law that allowed much of the information to reach the public has been a source of discontent for Department of Children and Family Services Director Trish Ploehn. She has complained to a reporter that the law unfairly "denigrated" her department by placing such a harsh spotlight on the most tragic cases.

This week, she declined to release any records in the 12 most recent child deaths, invoking a provision of the law that allows prosecutors to keep parts of the records confidential during a criminal inquiry.

Among 31 deaths over the past two years that met the county's standard for abuse or neglect, Ploehn said she identified 18 cases in which social workers committed serious errors. The group of 12 cases now being withheld includes some of those cases.

Ploehn's decision had the strong support of at least one county supervisor.

David Sommers, a spokesman for Supervisor Don Knabe, said his boss "adamantly believes the personal and tragic details of a child's death should not be raked over by this newspaper. He stands behind the expert opinion of the county counsel, who says we are in full compliance with the law, and not the interpretation by lawyers and reporters representing the Los Angeles Times."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the law in 2007 to allow public access to information when a child dies of abuse or neglect.

The law's preamble stated: "Without accurate and complete information about the circumstances leading to the child's death, public debate is stymied and the reforms, if adopted at all, may do little to prevent further tragedies."

The law made an exception, however, for instances in which the district attorney states that information might jeopardize a criminal inquiry. Child welfare agencies across the state were ordered to redact such information before release.

William J. Grimm, an attorney for the Oakland-based National Center for Youth Law, which successfully lobbied for the law, said his agency regularly requests records from all of California's 58 counties. Two small counties have denied records on as broad a basis as Los Angeles.

"The law doesn't permit a blanket, across-the-board approach to entire cases," Grimm said. "It requires the D.A. to go into each case and not just redact everything but redact only those things that imperil an investigation. The sort of response you received in Los Angeles was not the intent nor was it justified by the text of the law."

In the cases of the most recent deaths, the agency said Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley's objections covered the entire files for four children, including basic details such as the victim's name. For the remaining eight cases, the agency said unidentified law enforcement agencies covered the entire files.

State law only extends the right to object in this way to the district attorney, but agency officials said they extended the privilege to law enforcement agencies under guidance from the California Department of Social Services.

District attorney's office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said she polled senior child abuse prosecutors but was unable to find anyone who knew of an objection. She recommended asking the agency for the name of the prosecutor who objected, but the agency's attorney, Katie Bowser, declined.

"We don't think we have to give you that," Bowser said.

Source: Los Angeles Times

dead baby

Propaganda and Truth

February 12, 2010 permalink

Brant Children's Aid is pushing the I Am Your Children's Aid campaign. Following the promotional article, we enclose a note showing their real action.



Campaign boosts image of CAS

Posted February 12, 2010

A campaign aimed at brightening the public image of Children's Aid societies across Ontario is coming to Haldimand-Norfolk.

Called "I Am Your Children's Aid," it includes television and radio advertisements as well as posters.

The campaign features pictures of foster parents and former wards of the CAS who offer testimonials on how their lives were changed for the better thanks to the child welfare agency.

Janice Robinson, executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Haldimand-Norfolk, said her agency will make use of the posters.

"Research shows most people don't know what we do. They see us as an intervention agency," she said.

"We do prevention. We provide free public adoption -a lot of people don't know that."

The publicity campaign was two years in the making, but it comes to Haldimand-Norfolk at a time when public criticism of the agency is reaching a crescendo.

In recent months, angry parents upset with the local CAS have held placard-carrying protests and handed out flyers to the public. Last week, they held a public meeting in Delhi at which a guest speaker from an advocacy group called Canada Court Watch gave advice on what to do if you become a target of a CAS investigation.

They accuse CAS workers of high-handedness, manipulation, and lying in court proceedings.

In an interview, Robinson said having parents lash out verbally against a child welfare agency is nothing new.

"It's part of the territory, it's part of the job," she said.

"It's very stressful for people involved with us, we know that."

The agency seeks feedback from parents who have come into contact with them by asking them to fill out anonymous surveys, Robinson noted.

Source: Brantford Expositor

This couple has not given permission to use their names, so here it is anonymously:

February 9 at 2:40am

After a lenghly battle with CAS, over 18 months of discrimination and jumping through their hoops. Today at court we were surprised to see a third judge. This judge listened to the CAS side for over an hour and then it was our turn. Wierd how paperwork goes missing from the continuing record when it favours the family. The judge stunned both my wife and myself by not allowing for paperwork that already should have been part of the record to be entered. The result we have lost another son to crown ward as of 5pm tonight. I'd like to thank all those who supported is through out the year.

In a later note, the authors gave permission to show their names.

— Rob Ferguson and Kalina Mallon

Politically Incorrect Family Destroyed

February 12, 2010 permalink

The two children of a Manitoba couple, victims of a shotgun divorce after discovery of neo-Nazi behavior, have become wards of the province. Earlier stories: June 9, 2008 and May 27, 2009.



Foster care approved for kids in neo-Nazi case

Last Updated: Thursday, February 11, 2010 | 1:23 PM CT, CBC News

The Manitoba government has won permanent guardianship of two children whose parents were accused of teaching them neo-Nazi beliefs.

A Court of Queen's Bench judge has ordered that the boy and girl remain in the custody of Child and Family Services (CFS), which has placed them in foster care with a relative.

The court also dismissed a constitutional challenge from the father, who argued the government violated his right to raise the children according to his beliefs. He is the stepfather of the girl, now nine, and the biological father of the boy, now four years old.

To protect the identities of the children, no one involved in the case can be named.

The children were removed from their home in 2008 after the girl showed up at her elementary school with racist writings and symbols on her skin.

The government agency argued the children were emotionally harmed and were also being raised in squalor and suffering from neglect.

Girl described how to kill: social worker

During the trial of the custody issue last year, social workers testified the girl had said her parents hated people who were not white and talked of racial violence.

Social workers testified she used racial epithets to describe blacks, Asians, aboriginals and other minorities. One worker told the court the girl calmly described how black people could be killed with a ball and chain.

The father admitted to using Nazi salutes and telling the children that only white people belong in Canada. But he told the court his beliefs do not amount to racism and he never preached violence.

The mother, who now lives in another province, attended court infrequently, saying she could not afford the travel. In June, she testified that her estranged husband wasn't fit to be a parent, saying he was a heavy drinker and had been suicidal.

She also accused social workers of putting words in her daughter's mouth and said she never preached hatred to her children. The mother testified she wanted to co-operate with CFS officials in an effort to one day regain custody.

At one point, the mother appeared in court in shackles after being charged with a number of fraud-related crimes.

Appeals planned

In an email to CBC News on Thursday, the mother said she supported the decision not to grant custody to the father, but does not support a permanent order. She intends to appeal the decision.

"I deny any allegation of abandonment and will state that based on the judge's writings that she had made up her mind prior to the final arguments," she wrote.

"If she had paid attention to the evidence as opposed to [hearsay] from third parties speaking for a child that had no voice at the trial [and who were] never present in my home, then I believe her decision would be different.

"This is communism, state-sanctioned theft of children to punish their parents based solely on an alleged belief system. The social workers have stated that it is not their job to investigate the accusations through evidence, that [hearsay] is all that they need.

"Apparently the judge was in agreement with that. I am already working on my appeal."

The father's lawyer said they will review the judge's decision and plan an appeal. She described her client as being "very disappointed" with the verdict.

The father immediately loses any visitation rights with the children. Up until Thursday, he was allowed one supervised two-hour visit a week with them.

With files from The Canadian Press

Source: CBC

Alice Daniels comments:

February 12, 2010

I find this decision extremely distasteful, and very upsetting. This judge has now set a precedent where any child services can remove children based on religion, and beliefs, it is a very slippery slope this is.

I am very familiar with the case, and I have seen the apartment they say was in squalor and that is a bunch of crap, there is no way it was in that much of a disarray. You will always find something never mind how big or small if you are the one looing to ensure that you find something.

The mother has never preached violence to these children, the father may have as I have had next to no contact with him, but I do agree that he isnt in a position to parent the children but not because of his belief's but because of his behaviour around alcohol and other things.

I am thinking we are going to have to be extremely watchful over the next few months to see how many other provinces child welfare services jump on this band wagon and start kidnapping children based on the parents beliefs.

Source: email from Alice Daniels

Addendum: Appeal denied.



Neo-Nazi custody case appeal refused

Manitoba's highest court has refused to allow a father accused of teaching his kids neo-Nazi beliefs to appeal a custody order giving the state permanent custody of them.

A Court of Queen's Bench justice granted Child and Family Services (CFS) guardianship of the father's nine-year-old stepdaughter and four-year-old biological son in February after a lengthy and high profile trial last year.

The father was seeking permission from the Manitoba Court of Appeal to get more time to file the necessary paperwork to fight the custody order, but the court refused that request saying the arguments he planned to make in his appeal had no merit.

"In short, none of the arguments raise an arguable ground of appeal," Justice Freda Steel ruled in a 15-page written decision released to the public Tuesday.

The children were removed from their Winnipeg home in 2008 after the girl showed up at her elementary school with racist writings and symbols on her skin.

Lawyers for CFS argued the children were emotionally harmed and were also being raised in squalor and suffering from neglect.

A sweeping ban on the case prevents the publication of any information that could lead people to identify the children, who now live in the care of their aunt, a social worker.

In her decision, Steel noted that the father missed the deadline to file his appeal by three days, and many other parties in the case weren't served with a notice of his intention to fight the lower court's order until well after that.

The father told court the delay in filing was inadvertent, but also complicated by a delay in getting legal funding. Legal Aid Manitoba only agreed to pay for his appeal on June 30, about three months after the missed deadline.

Steel wrote the court had to take into account the welfare of the children when deciding whether to allow the appeal to go ahead.

"Delay is of particular concern in child-protection proceedings where an expeditious resolution and permanency planning are in the child's best interests," she wrote. "Such a consideration is no different than considering prejudice would result to the other party, except here, that party is not the opposing party, but the children involved in the case," she stated.

Parents talked of racial violence: social workers

During the trial of the custody issue last year, social workers testified the girl had said her parents hated people who were not white and talked of racial violence.

Social workers testified she used racial epithets to describe blacks, Asians, aboriginals and other minorities. One worker told the court the girl calmly described how black people could be killed with a ball and chain.

The father admitted to using Nazi salutes and telling the children that only white people belong in Canada. But he told the court his beliefs do not amount to racism and he never preached violence.

Steel wrote that the trial judge's decision to grant custody to the state was the correct one in the case.

There was "abundant" evidence to show the father is unfit to care for the two kids, she said.

"In deciding that the children were in continuing need of protection, the trial judge reviewed [the father's] history of violence, criminality, neglect of the children, drug and alcohol abuse, the living condition of the children … and his proposed parenting plan," Steel stated.

"A review of the reasons and references to the evidence supporting them make it clear there was abundant evidence to support the trial judge's conclusion."

Source: CBC


February 11, 2010 permalink

The Facebook fan page established for friends of CAS to post their experiences has been abolished. During its brief existence, it was overwhelmed by parents and children posting criticism. CAS has decided it is best to silence its critics by abolishing the forum.

Shhh.	I am your children's aid.

Family Day Usurped

February 10, 2010 permalink

The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa is usurping Ontario's holiday Family Day to promote foster care. The full press release is below.

John Dunn points out the significant paragraph.

[CAS] has ensured that the youth in care ... can be photographed and interviewed. Proper consents have been obtained therefore the media will not be in contravention of section 45 of the CFSA.

John Dunn says there is no exception under the law for consents. But another way of looking at it suggests that once CAS has publicly taken the position that consents are sufficient to contravene the law, they cannot later seek to enjoin others from publishing names with consent, at least in any forum recognizing the basics of law.



"We Need Families" - Youth in Care hold press conference on Parliament Hill on Family Day

OTTAWA, Feb. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - Youth in Care use their voice and stand together to bring awareness to the need for foster families across Eastern Ontario. During the third annual Foster a Snow Angel event, youth in care are inviting the community to make angels on Parliament Hill. This emotionally charged event aims at bringing much needed attention to the number of children and youth in Eastern Ontario who need families.

Foster families and their children from Belleville to Cornwall, Pembroke to Brockville will be converging on Parliament Hill to demonstrate the need for foster families for children in the care of Children's Aid Societies in Eastern Ontario by making snow angels. Each snow angel represents a child or youth in care waiting for a family.

During their press conference the youth in care will speak of their personal experiences and will be introducing the special guests.

Day in Ontario Monday, February 15, 2010 11:30 a.m.
Parliament Hill, Ottawa The event will take place on both sides of Centennial Flame before the steps
Special Guests:
Senator The Honourable Jim Munson Sénateure Lucie Pépin MP The Honourable Peter Milliken MP Paul Dewar Députée l'honorable Madeleine Meilleur MPP Yasir Naqvi Your Worship Larry O'Brien, Mayor of Ottawa Clive Doucet, City Councillor Jim Watson

Photo ops & Interviews:


The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa has ensured that the youth in care who are participating in the press conference and those identified as spokespeople can be photographed and interviewed. Proper consents have been obtained therefore the media will not be in contravention of section 45 of the CFSA. France Clost of the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa Communications Office will assist the media with photo ops at the event. Should the media have questions regarding confidentiality requirements or the CFSA, please contact France Clost.

For further information: Eastern Zone Children's Aid Societies: France Clost, Communications, The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa, (613) 747-7800 ex. 2033, (613) 513-8842 (mobile),

Source: Canada News Wire

Ride for Accountability

February 7, 2010 permalink

John Dunn has planned a Ride for Accountability of Children's Aid Societies (RACAS) this summer. You can read the agenda in his announcement (pdf).

According to the enclosed letter, financial support has not been adequate, and more is needed if the event is to proceed. Many readers of this column have been reduced to penury by their encounter with children's aid, but a few are able to afford a generous donation. Information for donors is in the announcement.



Saturday, February 06, 2010

Citizen Encourages Support for RACAS

A letter from a citizen in the community.

When the idea of a provincial ride for accountability was brought up, there seemed to be good support. But the facts suggest that there is a good possibility that this will have to be canceled. John has put himself out there in every way that he knows to in order to bring hope and some momentum to the issue of responsible accountability. What seem to be remiss is the fact that nothing will change unless we are all prepared to contribute or help to fund this project.

With respect for John he does not have the tenacity or the stomach to insist that he need financial support because he feels that he does not want to impose, moreover John is very cautious that he does not come across as being demanding for funds, because he knows how hard it is to find those extra dollars. I also recognize this fact...but the reality is, that such projects will not advance with out your support.

John is not aware that I am posting this message and he may not be pleased...but that's too bad. I have a question for all. Please respond with, either you intend to support this ride or not, if you can help raise some funds.

With all due respect your financial support is appreciated.


Donald J. Lester

Posted by afterfostercare at 11:14 PM

Source: Foster Care News

You can read the financial status on the page Supporters - RACAS.

False Reports

February 6, 2010 permalink

Four Philadelphia social workers, Mickal Kamuvaka, founder of MultiEthnic Behavioral Health Inc and employees Solomon Manamela, Julius Juma Murray and Mariam Coulibaly are on trial for allowing Danieal Kelly to starve to death under their supervision. Part-time co-worker Kim Cooke, not on trial, has testified in the case that, on orders from Kamuvaka, she regularly falsified written reports.



Ex-Phila. caseworker tells of false reports

By Nathan Gorenstein, Inquirer Staff Writer, Posted on Sat, Feb. 6, 2010

A former caseworker for MultiEthnic Behavioral Health Inc. testified yesterday that she regularly falsified reports about home visits that never happened, but said she was never explicitly told to do so.

Rather, supervisors said to "do what you have to do" to complete records required by the city, said Kim Cooke, a part-time employee at the agency that closed in 2006 after the death of Danieal Kelly, a 14-year-old who starved to death in her mother's home.

Four MultiEthnic employees, including two cofounders, are on trial in U.S. District Court, charged with falsifying records and destroying documents to hide that they failed to provide care for at-risk children, including Kelly, who had cerebral palsy.

Between 2000 and 2006, MultiEthnic was paid $3.7 million by Philadelphia to provide in-home social services for about 500 families.

Witnesses testified that the agency was effectively run by Mickal Kamuvaka, 60, who holds a doctorate in social work from the University of Pennsylvania.

When Department of Human Services officials scheduled an audit of agency files, Kamuvaka allegedly would call the staff members together and urge them to help each other fill out the required paperwork. "We are all in this together. . . . They can close us down," Kamuvaka said, according to Cooke.

Did you create false records? asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Bea Witzleben. "Yes," said Cooke.

On cross-examination, Kamuvaka's defense attorney, William Cannon, asked Cooke, "Did anyone say to create a document?"

"Not like that," replied Cooke. "To me, it felt like you had to do what you had to do, you had to fill in the file."

She said one defendant, Solomon Manamela, told her to do what was "necessary" when he learned that Cooke had not made all of the required home visits. Manamela, 52, is also a MultiEthnic cofounder.

"He never asked me specifically," she said, but said, "do what you need to do."

"I started out as a good social worker," said Cooke. "I wasn't so good a worker at the end. You just got tired and burned out. . . . Paperwork-wise, no, I don't think I was a good worker."

Cooke said she was working three jobs at the time - one with the Philadelphia School District, one with another social-services agency, and 15 hours a week at MultiEthnic. When she could not visit a home, she said, she typically would contact the family members by telephone and quiz them.

Yolanda Carr, a receptionist and typist, said she worked 24 hours straight typing up quarterly reports in preparation for DHS audits that occurred about once a year.

Another former employee, Blendenna Carter, was hired as a receptionist and later promoted to caseworker, but said she received "not much" of the supervision promised by Kamuvaka. In the office, Kamuvaka "would be grading papers" for a teaching job at a local college, Carter said.

Once, Kamuvaka had her forge another employee's signature, Carter said. "She told me to practice, because I didn't write like that," she said.

Cooke said some documents bearing her signature were signed by someone else. Looking at a report from May 2006, she said the signature was not her own. "No, I write more loopy," she said.

Contact staff writer Nathan Gorenstein at 215-854-2797 or

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

Don't think this is an isolated case. A Florida story shows that the practice of falsifying records is endemic.



Falsifications bring change in child abuse cases

By JOSH POLTILOVE,, Published: February 7, 2010

TAMPA - The resignation of a child protection investigator accused of falsifying documents has prompted changes in how the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office handles child abuse cases.

An internal affairs probe found that investigator Heather Stokes falsified and/or fabricated 25 investigations, seven of them completely.

Stokes said she made up details and forged signatures on one investigation because she was "overwhelmed" with cases, according to an internal affairs report. The seven-year veteran resigned a day after being confronted by investigators.

Stokes was one of two child protection investigators to resign since April after being accused of falsifying documents.

No children or families were harmed as a result of any of the fabrications, according to documents obtained by The Tampa Tribune.

But every child protection investigator must now photograph the child at the child's home, and that information goes in a case file, sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon said Friday.

Supervisors also now are tasked with randomly reviewing cases and making 25 to 30 quality assurance checks each month; investigators aren't alerted beforehand to which families will be contacted.

"We're imperfect," McKinnon said. "We try to police our own. And when we find errors, we're going to obviously try to correct them."

He said there's no indication of a deeper problem with the department's child protection services.

The sheriff's office assumed responsibility for child abuse investigations less than 10 years ago after state Department of Children & Families employees were accused of shocking shortcomings, including falsifying records.

The sheriff's office has about 85 child protection investigators and handles roughly 1,100 cases a month.

McKinnon said investigators' caseloads should not be considered overwhelming, despite the recent misdeeds.

"There's no excuse for inappropriate behavior, regardless of whether you're overworked or not," he said.

Not just a local issue

Investigators falsifying records isn't just a local concern. In a two-year stretch, more than 70 child welfare workers in Florida were caught lying about their efforts to protect children, according to an Orlando Sentinel report in July.

When questioned, those workers generally complained they had too many cases.

The internal affairs probe of Stokes revealed that in one case she fabricated what she documented concerning visiting a family on four occasions. The mother told investigators she had never met Stokes, or signed a child safety plan or a consent form for medical treatment.

Stokes admitted she had never visited the mother, father, children or home, saying she was "overwhelmed with her cases," the report states. She also said she forged the signatures of the mother and father.

Field training officers were assigned to audit Stokes' 59 cases from December 2008 through April, and found seven to be completely fabricated.

The internal affairs report does not identify the families involved.

Taking her medicine

Stokes resigned in April.

The sheriff's office forwarded its findings to the state attorney's office.

Stokes avoided criminal charges by entering a pretrial diversion program. She performed more than 200 hours of community service, said her attorney, Fred Carrington.

"Heather took her medicine, lost her job, her career and moved on with her life," Carrington said.

Another child protection investigator, Jerimee Joyner, resigned in June after nearly three years with the sheriff's office.

A colleague who was straightening documents on Joyner's desk found a piece of paper bearing the signature of Joyner's supervisor that had been taped to a form, a report states.

Joyner told investigators he didn't realize the form could be considered a falsified document. He said his supervisor wasn't available to sign the form, so "what I did was I kind of just made the forms and put them in the file so I could close the file."

Reporter Josh Poltilove can be reached at (813) 259-7691.

Source: Tampa Tribune

Addendum: After Danieal Kelly died, social workers engaged in an orgy of document falsification.



Posted on Tue, Feb. 9, 2010

Ex-caseworker says she faked documents after girl’s death


Within hours of 14-year-old Danieal Kelly's death, officials at the social services company responsible for her safety were rushing to produce back-dated paperwork, an effort that apparently included forging the signature of the teen's mother on a form, according to testimony today in federal court.

Written on the day of Kelly's death, Aug. 4, 2006, the document was an "encounter" form recording a home visit that had actually occurred months earlier.

Kelly suffered from cerebral palsy and lived in a West Philadelphia household with seven other siblings. She died, covered in bedsores, of starvation. Her family was under the supervision of the city's Department of Human Services, which subcontracted the work to now-defunct MultiEthnic Behavioral Health Inc.

After Danieal's death, nine MultiEthnic employees were charged with billing the city for services they never provided to her and other children, and with fabricating and destroying subpoenaed documents. Five have pleaded guilty, and four are on trial in U.S. District Court.

Today, Christiana Nimpson, a former MultiEthnic caseworker, said that she filled out the encounter form on the day of Danieal's death at the request of agency co-founder Mickal Kamuvaka - and that she left the "recipient signature" line blank.

Officials were rushing to complete required paperwork for the family's file, which DHS was demanding.

Nimpson said that after she completed the form, either Kamuvaka or a Solomon Manamela, another supervisor, asked her to also sign the name of Danieal's mother, Andrea Kelly. Both supervisors are among the four on trial.

Nimpson said she refused, testifying, "I thought it wasn't right."

Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bea Witzleben, Nimpson said she could not recall which of the two supervisors made the request.

The form - bearing a signature reading Andrea Kelly - was entered into evidence. Nimpson's testimony was not challenged by defense attorneys, and exactly how the form came to be signed, and who signed it, was not answered.

Nimpson also said that on 10 occasions, Kamuvaka asked her to go through other caseworkers' files and fabricate missing reports. She said Manamella asked her to do the same thing five times over the course of her four years with the agency.

Previous witnesses have testified that MultiEthnic managers worried that incomplete files would threaten the agency's contract with the city's Department of Human Services.

To generate data for the forms, Nimpson said she sometimes called the families who were supposed to have been visited by other caseworkers. She also sometimes fabricated her own "progress notes" because she did not have time to make the required visits.

Nimpson said she earned about $28,000 a year, and like other caseworkers who have testified, said she worked two or three jobs.

Nimpson said she did visit the Kelly household in late May or early June to teach Andrea Kelly parenting skills, and was accompanied by the family's caseworker, Julius Juma Murray. Nimpson said she spoke to the mother on the porch and waited outside while Murray entered the home.

Andrea Kelly later received a 30-year prison sentence for her role in Danieal's death.

Contact staff writer Nathan Gorenstein at 215-854-4797 or

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

All Titanic passengers are Safe

Family Purgatory

February 6, 2010 permalink

The Kelley family in Nebraska lost three children to child protection in 2001. Though it quickly became apparent that there was nothing wrong with the parents, the child protectors stalled for eight years before restoring the family. There is nothing unusual about this case, it could be a model for typical CPS intervention in a family. The only thing different is that the press is willing to report the story.



Family divided 9 years takes on the system

By Martha Stoddard, Published: Friday, February 5, 2010 4:13 AM CST, World-Herald News Service

LINCOLN - Lincoln police found Anthony and Arva Kelley's preschooler and two toddlers home alone one February night.

The house was "disorderly," with standing water in the bathtub, fecal matter on one bedroom wall and soiled diapers on the floor, an affidavit stated.

When no adults had returned within an hour, police took the children into state custody.

State officials were to keep the three children for the next nine years, even though the Kelleys eventually had four more children, none of whom was ever removed from the home or judged to be at risk.

And even though repeated reports said the three oldest children would be safe with their parents.

And even after top child welfare officials apologized to the parents because the case had gone on so long.

Now all seven Kelleys are suing the state. The parents and children seek damages, alleging that they were denied their constitutional right to family integrity.

The suit, which is expected to be filed today in Douglas County District Court, also alleges violations of the family's due process and equal protection rights.

The right to family integrity claim, more common in other states, has been made in only two other Nebraska cases, said Amy Geren of Omaha, the Kelleys' attorney.

The claim's success depends on showing that the only thing standing in the way of family reunification was the state's ineptness, Geren said.

"We're talking about a decade of serious interference with their fundamental rights," said Amy Williams, a law clerk in Geren's firm. "That family will never recover."

The list of defendants includes the State of Nebraska, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, several current and former HHS employees and the children's former guardian ad litem.

Geren and Williams said they took the case because they were concerned about what they said were systemic problems with Nebraska's child welfare system.

"We're both really tired of seeing how the department (HHS) screws up families," Geren said. "You can only turn your back on that so many times and say, 'It's just that case.'"

The suit seeks general and specific damages, but the Kelleys say money is not their objective.

"It's about doing the right thing, folks," Arva Kelley said in an interview Thursday. "You can't just play with people's lives."

The Kelley's story began Feb. 12, 2000, when Lincoln police responded to a "check welfare" call at the Kelley home, according to the complaint and to other court documents.

Police arrived at 11 p.m. An hour later, they removed the children, then ages 4, 2 and 1.

The children remained state wards until last April, when the Lancaster County Juvenile Court returned custody to the Kelleys.

During the intervening years, according to court documents:

The court ordered the parents to meet requirements to get the three children back, but the requirements kept changing.

The case goals shifted, from family reunification, to guardianship by the foster parents, to termination of parental rights, to guardianship by the four sets of grandparents.

The family dealt with 11 caseworkers and four HHS supervisors.

Anthony Kelley was repeatedly ordered to undergo psychological evaluations.

He also was required to get substance abuse treatment, even though no allegations of alcohol use or abuse were included in the initial allegations against him.

He ran into months of waiting lists and Medicaid funding problems when he tried to get into local outpatient treatment programs.

He went to a private therapist only to have the court say he was in the wrong type of treatment. He had to start over.

He finally completed an outpatient substance abuse program with Lutheran Family Services in July 2002. But when he was unable to pay his bill, the agency withheld his documentation and the court refused to credit him with completing the program.

He tried to go through inpatient treatment, but two programs said it was not warranted for his level of alcohol use.

In 2005, Anthony Kelley finally obtained the certificate of completion for the outpatient program. But that wasn't enough for HHS or the court, which ordered still more evaluations.

The children had regular visits with the parents, including overnight visits during some periods.

In 2001, the court, on a recommendation by HHS, stopped overnight visits for Anthony Kelley because the couple had not completed weekly "visitation logs." The visits later were resumed.

In 2002, HHS staff raised concerns about the couple not having driver's licenses or a car large enough for all their children.

Over the years, reports from various parties said the children would be safe with their parents.

The children's foster parent said in May 2000 that the children belonged with their parents.

In May 2005, an HHS case worker reported that the "issues that led to the initial removal ... have been alleviated."

In 2006 - six years after the children were removed - the Foster Care Review Board recommended reunification, saying:

"Case manager turnover, changes in visitation schedules and in the permanency objective being sought appear to have been more detrimental to the children than if reunification had occurred at some point in the past."

The review board also noted that while the parents had not been consistent in participating in services, "progress has been made and no significant safety concerns have ever been reported."

Nearly a year earlier, according to the lawsuit, then-HHS administrator Nancy Montanez told the Kelleys that their children should be at home but that the department could not move them for legal reasons.

At a meeting in July 2005, then-HHS administrators Todd Reckling and Chris Peterson met with the Kelleys and apologized that the case was taking so long.

But in May 2006, according to the lawsuit, HHS staff told the Kelleys that they would lose custody of all their children if they did not agree to the grandparents becoming guardians of the three oldest.

The Kelleys eventually hired a new attorney, and the children were placed back in the home in November 2008. By then, the preschooler was 13 years old and her two brothers - toddlers when removed - were 11 and 9.

State involvement ended last April.

James Holt of Omaha, a therapist who worked with the family, said in an interview that the Kelley parents and children suffered psychologically because of the separation. One of the children was hospitalized in 2006 for severe emotional distress, according to the lawsuit.

"The children definitely have feelings of abandonment," Holt said. "The system divided and conquered."

The Kelleys now live in South Carolina, near both sets of grandparents.

Anthony Kelley said the youngsters are doing well, for the most part.

"Basically, we're still trying to catch up for lost time, though some things you can't catch up on," he said. "We're just blessed to have them."

Source: North Platte Telegraph

Vern Beck Speaks on CAS

February 5, 2010 permalink

Thursday Vern Beck addressed a group in Simcoe Ontario on the abuses committed by Ontario's children's aid societies. This is the meeting announced earlier.



Against the CAS system

Posted By DANIEL PEARCE, SIMCOE REFORMER, Posted February 5, 2010

Judges altering court transcripts. Kids being beaten in foster homes. Children's aid workers lying on the witness stand.

Coercion, collusion, trickery -- it's all part of what Ontarians have experienced while dealing with Children's Aid Societies, a family advocacy group said here Thursday night.

"It's a real mess," said Vern Beck, a volunteer with Canada Court Watch. "The system is corrupt and you have to know how to fight back."

More than 40 people, most of them with their own stories of dealing with CAS, listened as the Oakville resident gave a power point presentation warning of what to do when child protection workers come calling.

His organization advocates on behalf of families, and its research has revealed a litany of problems with CAS agencies, he said.

"Corruption, cover ups, and abuse of children and families is a reality."

Beck explained how parents are disadvantaged from the start. They are asked to come to court to get their kids back with as little as one day's notice. They're not prepared, can't afford a lawyer and usually lose the first case, he said.

Investigations by his group, said Beck, suggest CAS workers "fabricate evidence -- that's how they build cases," while other professionals, including doctors, say what the CAS wants them to.

"Transcripts are being altered by judges and court reporters," he added.

The way to protect yourself, Beck said, is to secretly tape record all conversations with child protection workers.

"If you expect to deal with them, it is one of the most important tools you can get to defend yourself . . . I cannot emphasize enough the importance of electronic recording equipment."

Tape-recorded conversations have caught CAS workers in lies, he said, and allowed people to get children back.

Child agencies are out to apprehend kids because they get money from the government for every child they have in care, Beck explained.

"A CAS is a private company," he said.

Beck also warned against voluntarily getting involved with them.

"Once they have your consent, they'll put you through endless hoops: drug tests, parenting courses. It'll drag on for one or two years, sometimes longer."

In interviews with the Reformer, the people who gathered in the basement of the Polish Hall said they came to get more information on how to help themselves.

One woman said every time a worker visits, she is made to strip down her baby son, hold him up and "spin him around" so they can see if he has any bruises.

Another woman said she was in foster care her entire childhood and now as a mother has lost her two children to the CAS.

"I'm trying to figure out how to get them back," she said.

A man in his 20s said the meeting was too late for him: his four-year-old son is now a Crown Ward and he'll never get him back.

"They never gave me a chance (to raise him) on my own," he said. "They made me sign all my rights away."

Daniel Pearce

519-426-3528 ext. 132

Source: Simcoe Reformer

Foster Parent of the Year

February 5, 2010 permalink

Foster dad Garry Prokopishin is the cream of the crop, a director for the Calgary & District Foster Parents Association once honored as “Foster Parent of the Year”. Yesterday he was charged with a long list of sex-crimes against his wards. Details in the story suggest that for twenty years he kept teenaged foster boys in his home to satisfy his unnatural lust. Now if he is the best foster parent ...



Foster dad facing sex charges


home of Garry Prokopishin
The Calgary house believed to be the home of a man charged with sex-related charges against minors.

CALGARY -- Police accuse a Calgary man once named “Foster Parent of the Year” with numerous sex-related offences spanning several years.

As the disturbing allegations were revealed Thursday, those who know the 51-year-old long-time foster parent say they cannot believe the man they know as a pillar of the community could be guilty of engaging in sex acts with underage boys.

Garry Prokopishin, a director for the Calgary & District Foster Parents Association, is charged with luring a child via a data device, three counts of obtaining or attempting to obtain sex from a person under age 18 and sexual contact with a youth by a person in authority.

Police allege he offered cash in exchange for sex acts.

They also said they found evidence of inappropriate cell phone camera images.

The charges stem from an investigation started by child abuse detectives last summer after an agency, who they would not disclose, contacted them with concerns about the foster home in Beddington where Prokopishin and his wife took in high-risk youth, police spokesman Kevin Brookwell said.

“These are kids who have had some trouble with the law and issues with substance abuse they were working through,” Brookwell said.

Prokopishin was the primary care-giver for his three alleged victims, police said.

Police tracked down 13 of 55 foster children, all boys ranging from age 14 to 17, who lived in the home over the past 20 years as part of the investigation.

They still want to track down the other individuals fostered in the home over the years.

“Our investigators have literally travelled from one end of the country to the other to try to talk to these kids,” Brookwell said.

“There is the potential there could be other victims.”

The alleged offences happened between January 2006 and April of 2008.

The operation was shut down immediately after the investigation began.

Children and Youth Services Minister Yvonne Fritz learned of the charges Thursday and ordered an investigation into the case, spokesman Trevor Coulombe said.

“She wants to know what occurred from A to Z and wants the report in her hands as soon as possible,” he said.

Joanne Atkinson, general manager at a Royal Canadian Legion branch where Prokopishin worked in the dining room for the past 20 years, said she is shocked by the charges.

“I would find it hard to believe,” she said.

“Garry is a nice man.”

While many fellow foster parents are also incredulous there could be any merit to the allegations, Brookwell said the investigation was exhaustive, involving interviews with youth fostered in the home, friends and associates to garner “corroborating evidence” before charges were laid.

Prokopishin is out on $800 bail.

— with files from Bill Kaufmann and Kevin Martin


Another newspaper, the Calgary Herald, supplied a photo of Garry Prokopishin.

Garry Prokopishin

Addendum: Lawyer Robert P Lee, who has spent years suing on behalf of abused Alberta foster children, comments on the arrest.



Critic says foster care system chronically dysfunctional

By NADIA MOHARIB, Calgary Sun, Last Updated: 5th February 2010, 6:30pm

On the heels sex-related charges against a Calgary foster parent, other victims of abuse in such care say they’re outraged problems within the system are never addressed.

Edmonton lawyer Robert Lee represents about 300 people abused in foster care and for the past seven years has had a class action suit against the Alberta government seeking compensation for the victims.

Disturbed by sex-abuse charges this week laid against a longtime foster parent Garry Prokopishin for alleged incidents with three male youth in his care, Lee said he’s also disappointed to hear provincial authorities once again vowing to deal with chronic issues within the system.

He said the system struggles with “well-meaning welfare workers trying to do their best with kids,” but hampered by heavy workloads.

And while the top issue is abuse — with countless cases where children’s complaints are not believed — it is followed by neglect, where they simply fall through cracks in the system, said Lee.

“There have been numerous reviews of the child welfare system over the last thirty years and unfortunately, those recommendations are not implemented,” he said.

This week, Calgarian Prokopishin, was charged with offering teens in his care money in exchange for sexual acts.

Police said the 51-year-old and his wife cared for 55 male youth over 20 years at their Beddington home.

Investigators interviewed 13 out of 55 former foster children before charging Prokopishin with luring a child by cellphone, three counts of obtaining or attempting to obtain sex from a person under 18 years of age and sexual contact with a youth by a person in authority.

Newly-minted Children and Youth Services Minister Yvonne Fritz announced a review of that case on Thursday, the same day police went public with the charges.

Friday, she stressed the review is not of the “entire foster-care system,” but rather the Calgary case to see whether policies and procedures were followed.

“It is focusing on this particular situation,” she said.

“It is an internal review and if changes are necessary I will make those changes immediately.”

Fritz also defended the foster-care system.

“We have very strong foster-care and very stringent screening process,” she said.

There are about 4,600 youth in foster care in Alberta.

The bulk have been abused or neglected and end up in care when guardians are unable or unwilling to look after them.

Source: Calgary Sun

Addendum: More charges.



Former foster parent faces additional sex charges

Garry Prokopishin
Police have laid two additional sex charges against a former foster parent, Garry Prokopishin, accused of sexually abusing boys under his care.
Photograph by: ., Calgary Herald

CALGARY — Police have laid another sex assault charge against a former foster parent accused of abusing boys in his care.

Garry Dale Prokopishin, 52, is charged with obtaining sex from a person under 18 and sexual contact with a youth by person in authority after a sixth victim came forward.

In December 2010, police received information from a man who claimed he had been sexually abused while in a Calgary foster home.

It’s alleged that between Nov. 15, 2001 and Sept. 1, 2005, the then 14-year-old teen was repeatedly sexually assaulted while in the care of his foster parent. The assaults are alleged to have occurred at the Calgary home of the accused and at locations outside of the city, police said in a news release.

He’s the sixth victim to come forward.

The other five have alleged they were in their mid-teens when they were molested between 2004 and 2008.

Calgary police say they have not yet spoken with all 55 boys that lived in the home, although they note that the investigation is ongoing. Interviews have been conducted across Canada, police said.

Source: Calgary Herald

Addendum: June 2012, two more charges.



Charges against former Foster Parent of the Year hiked to five

Former Foster Parent of the Year Gary Prokopishin will face two extra accusers when he stands trial for molesting boys under his care, his lawyer said Friday.

Defence counsel Ian McKay told court the Crown has directly indicted his client on two additional charges of sexual contact with minors, bringing the total allegations against him to five. As a result, McKay told Justice Earl Wilson, he and Crown prosecutor Gord Haight will need an eight-day hearing instead of six.

McKay set Prokop-ishin’s new trial to commence March 4 before a Court of Queen’s Bench judge sitting without a jury.

Outside court, McKay said the additional allegations involve complainants who came forward earlier, but could not be subpoenaed for Prokopishin’s preliminary hearing.

“They were on the original (charging) information, but they couldn’t get them served for the preliminary,” the lawyer said.

Prokopishin, 53, was ordered to stand trial on three charges of sexual contact with a minor by a person in authority following a preliminary inquiry in October 2010.

He had faced 13 charges involving six different boys, but 10 of those were dismissed by a provincial court judge who found there was no evidence to support them.

Prokopishin was initially arrested in February 2010 and charged with luring a child via a data device, three counts of obtaining or attempting to obtain sex from a person under 18, and sexual contact with a youth by a person in authority. Police alleged at the time money was offered in exchange for sexual acts.

Source: Calgary Sun

Addendum: October 2014 convicted.



City man convicted of sexually assaulting four boys under his foster care

A man who was chosen along with his wife as the local Foster Family of the Year in 2007 now faces a lengthy prison sentence after sexually assaulting four foster boys under his care.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Hall on Thursday convicted Garry Dale Prokopishin, 56, of sexually touching the boys while in a position of trust between May 5, 1999, and Aug. 5, 2008. He also acquitted him of one charge and another count was earlier withdrawn by Crown prosecutor Gord Haight.

Hall said the complainants’ descriptions of ‘Guys’ Nights,’ in which the teenage boys were taken to different towns outside the city, put up in a hotel, bought drinks, dinner and clothes and paid for sex, was a key part of the evidence.

“The description of Guys’ Nights by the complainants further corroborate the sexual nature of the relationship between the participants and the accused, even though these events occurred after the complainants reached the age of majority (18),” wrote Hall in his decision.

One of the complainants testified that Prokopishin would usually pay him $20 after the event.

Hall said the complainants and others who lived in the home and provided similar fact evidence supported each others’ stories about what happened, and he accepted it for the most part, with no serious concern of collusion among them.

“The court is aware of the potential for collusion among the complainants,” said the judge. “They could all contact each other and many indicated that they have done so. Two of the complainants are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the accused and the government, and the others are aware of the lawsuit. There is at least a ‘whiff of profit,’

“Notwithstanding this possibility for collusion, the Crown has satisfied me that it has not occurred in this case. The evidence of any one witness is not tailored to fit that of others; indeed, there are inconsistencies between them that one would not expect if intentional collusion had transpired. Unintentional collusion as to the acts that occurred to each of them is simply not a realistic possibility.”

One complainant, now 26, testified he agreed to allow Prokopishin to perform sex acts on him when he was between 16 and 18 years old, generally for $20 each occasion, and he would use the money to feed his crack cocaine habit.

He told Haight the sex occurred regularly at the home, but also three or four times in hotels in Drumheller, Medicine Hat and Red Deer.

After he moved to Kitimat, B.C., in 2008, the complainant said Prokopishin phoned him and said other kids had come forward and reporters were flooding around his house. He said he then went to Kitimat RCMP and reported the incidents.”

“They gave us drugs, cigarettes and money. There was always food on the table. It was a very good home. I didn’t have an issue staying in the home,” he said of the Prokopishins.

Hall ordered a presentence report and a psychiatric report at the request of Haight and defence lawyer Ian McKay to be prepared for sentencing arguments on Dec. 19.

The judge ordered Prokopishin into custody following a brief discussion, and he will remain there until sentencing.

Source: Calgary Herald

Participate in a Documentary

February 4, 2010 permalink

Mary Janiga is in touch with a film maker interested in doing a documentary on children's aid societies of Ontario. You can help by sending your story (single paragraph, no long tales) to Mary at her email address in the expand block. For an example of how effective a documentary can be, watch Innocence Destroyed by Bill Bowen, on YouTube: [1] [2] [3] or local copies: [1] [2] [3] all flv.



Wednesday, February 03, 2010


I am presently speaking with colleagues and associates within this Children’s Aid Society cause(if that’s what you would call it) and have been approached to provide documented evidence and proof of alleged abuses within the CAS system of Ontario.

Can I provide case scenarios and victim’s names of their side of the story of CAS’ victimization within their lives, giving them their own voice that they need to give?

I have many stories of the victimization of the Children’s Aid Society against families.

This can only be done through the producing of a documentary television movie here in Ontario. This is being proposed and researched right now.

If you would like to be a part of this ground-breaking documentary and information movie please contact me via email at with a one paragraph or less (Not a full page) about your “CAS Horror story” along with contact information such as phone number, address and your permission for me to pass on your information to the producer and director of this movie, it would be greatly appreciated.

I will be meeting with my associates in the coming weeks so it would be good to go with 50 – 100 stories instead of just a few of the many stories that must be told. This is our chance to get the accountability we so deserve in our fight against the Children’s Aid Society.

Thank you for your support!!

Source: Mary Janiga blog February 3, 2010

Voices of Innocent Families

February 4, 2010 permalink

Radio station CHCD-FM (CD 98.9) in Simcoe Ontario reports Brian Caldwell is leading a group opposing children's aid.



Norfolk County : Group Voicing Out Against Children's Aid Society

Posted by Adam Liefl,

A local group advocating for the creation of a governing body to look into operations at the Children's Aid Society is looking to help locals know their rights through an information session. "Voices of Innocent Families" member, Brian Caldwell, says until the government passes a Bill that would see outside policing of the activities at the Children's Aid Society, he will keep working to educate the public on their rights. Among those, Caldwell says, is the right to electronically record any court proceedings and meetings with CAS workers. Meanwhile Executive Director of the Children's Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk, Janice Robinson, said in a statement that the organization supports the right of individuals to register their complaints regarding services to them directly, through a formal complaint process or to the Child and Family Services Review Board. Robinson understands Court Watch to be an advocacy group who are currently working with parents to develop strategies for recording information when they are involved with CAS. Meanwhile, Caldwell says 9 our of 10 children in the care of the CAS should not be there, and claims the organization is abusing parents' rights and simply walking out the door with their kids. Robinson says the organization is always interested in providing services to their families and children within a respectful relationship. HNCAS was not invited to the meeting and have not been asked to participate. The "Voices of Innocent Families" information session is scheduled for tomorrow night at 7pm at the Delhi Polish Hall with a guest speaker coming from Canada Court Watch.

on 2010/2/3 12:32:49

Source: CHCD-FM (CD 98.9)


February 3, 2010 permalink

When lesbians Taylar Nuevelle and Janet Albert broke off their relationship, Taylar got even by stalking Janet, going so far as to file a false claim with child protective services saying that Janet abused her young son.

For ordinary people, CPS would spend months or years harassing Janet. But this time it was different. Janet was a Washington DC judge, and Taylar has been convicted of stalking.



Taylar Nuevelle
Taylar Nuevelle was convicted on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 of stalking Judge Janet Albert.

Woman Found Guilty of Stalking DC Judge

Updated: Tuesday, 02 Feb 2010, 6:43 PM EST, Published : Tuesday, 02 Feb 2010, 6:41 PM EST, By PAUL WAGNER/myfoxdc

A D.C. woman has been convicted of stalking a magistrate judge following a week long trial in D.C. Superior Court. Guilty verdicts were returned Tuesday against Taylar Nuevelle, who had also been charged with burglary and unlawful entry.

The trouble began in 2008 when the judge ended a romantic relationship with the defendant.

What followed, prosecutors say, was a series of actions designed to destroy the judge’s life.

The testimony showed Taylar Nuevelle was furious with Judge Janet Albert for ending their year long relationship.

So much so investigators say she waged a campaign to torment and frighten the judge, bombarding her with emails, text messages and phone calls. She even filed lawsuits and a claim of judicial misconduct.

After the verdicts were read, Taylar Nuevelle was taken into custody and ordered held without bond until she is sentenced in April. She faces up to 15 years in prison.

The 40-year-old consultant to non-profits was convicted despite taking the stand in her own defense. Claiming the emails, texts and phone calls were all about getting her property back-- clothes and other items she had left at the judge’s house.

But the prosecutor said it was much more sinister than that. Nuevelle, the prosecutor said, waged a campaign of harassment, going as far as to call Child Protective Services and make two unfounded claims against Janet Albert. The judge has a young son.

Taylar Nuevelle was found unconscious in the attic of the judge’s Northwest D.C. home two days after their breakup.

Source: WTTG

Oshawa Rally

February 3, 2010 permalink

Oshawa rally for ombudsman oversight of CAS

A rally in support of bill 93, providing for provincial ombudsman oversight of children's aid, has been scheduled for Friday afternoon March 19 in Oshawa Ontario.



Rally at Memorial Park to Support Bill 93 (Oversight of CAS)

Causes - Rally
Friday, March 19, 2010
2:00pm - 5:00pm
Memorial Park - Simcoe and John Streets (Oshawa)


This rally is to raise awareness and promote support of Bill 93 to amend the Ombudsman Act to include independent oversight of the Children's Aid Society.

Please come and show your support!!

Source: Facebook (account required)

John and Simcoe Streets, Oshawa Ontario

Matthew Reid Inquest

February 2, 2010 permalink

Testimony has started in the inquest into the death of Matthew Reid, smothered to death by a fourteen-year-old foster girl in 2005. It may be more of a cover-up than public disclosure, since publication of names has been banned. The first day's testimony showed that Reid had been molested earlier by a different foster girl.

Because of the volume of continuing articles on this inquest, the news has been moved to a separate page for Matthew Reid.

Woman Chases Off Social Worker

February 1, 2010 permalink

Two Kentucky social workers were stalking when Brigette Howard, who was not their target, chased them away at gunpoint.



Recent incident stresses need for social worker safety

Posted January 27, 2010, By Becky Graham, Posted by Sarah Harlan

Brigette Howard

HENDERSON CO., KY (WFIE) - It was a scary moment for some social workers in Henderson.

Sheriff's deputies said a woman with a gun chased them.

The woman, 50-year-old Brigette Howard, has been arrested, but the incident does bring up the issue of social worker safety.

In 2006, Boni Frederick proved social work was a deadly profession.

The Union County woman was brutally murdered while on duty.

Months later, Kentucky passed the Boni Frederick Memorial Bill, which promised to improve the safety of her peers, but one recent incident has Henderson officers wondering if social workers are in fact any safer.

Henderson social workers know the protocol. If they feel uneasy about a house call, immediately call for back up.

"Their job is absolutely dangerous and they have to take every precaution they can take because they're not in the position we're in," Col. David Crafton with the Henderson County Sheriff's Office said. "They're not armed."

Tuesday, two Henderson social workers did just that.

Deputies said Ashlee Alexander and Rhonda Hagan pulled over in front of a house on Kentucky 416 to wait for law enforcement to assist them on a visit, but before they got there, the unexpected happened.

"They were near a house that belonged to Ms. Brigette Howard," Crafton said. "Ms. Howard came out of the house and came toward the social workers with a rifle. The social workers then drove away."

Col. Crafton said Howard kept chasing the car on foot with the gun.

When the driver stopped the car, the women said they showed Howard their social services I.D.s and told her they weren't coming to see her, but they said she wouldn't put away the gun.

"They had to put it in drive and drive rapidly past her," Crafton said. "She was blocking the way."

Howard was arrested, but a Henderson Police officer wants to know where the additional protection promised to these men and women by Boni's Bill is.

"I think they are fine if they are expecting danger, but it's when they get to these locations and there is something they're not anticipating," Sgt. John Nevels with the Henderson Police Department said.

The complaint is being echoed statewide.

Kentucky lawmaker Tom Burch, who introduced Boni's Bill, said only $2 million of the $6 million allocated for extra protection for social workers materialized, and that money was spent poorly.

Burch said he wants to introduce a new Boni's Bill.

"I've often thought they outta have some sort of panic button or alarm or something like that just in case they get in a situation like Ms. Frederick was," Nevels said.

14 News contacted the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and they said great changes come from Boni's Bill, including more training for their employees.

Source: WFIE Evansville

woman with shotgun

Lawsuit Against Phony Doctor Carter

February 1, 2010 permalink

Greg Carter, a Whitby psychologist, has been arrested for fraud, obstructing justice and perjury. If you have been affected by this man please call David Bulmer at 905-263-4127. David has a lawyer in Toronto who is putting together a class action suit. David has been gathering evidence for the last eleven months and went to the Ontario College of Psychologists and the Durham Regional Police in November 2009 with his information. The Police investigated for two months verifying his information before charging Mr Carter. They are requesting any other victims of this man's testimony in custody cases contact them.

Source: email from Betty Cornelius

Burned at the Stake

January 31, 2010 permalink

Child Protective Services in Michigan placed Calista for adoption with Marsha and Anthony Springer. This week CPS investigator Patricia Skelding testified that before Calista's adoption was complete, CPS knew about the Springers' practice of chaining the girl to a bed. CPS ignored the abuse and finalized the adoption. Four years later sixteen-year-old Calista Springer was incinerated in a fire while chained to her bed.

Though there is no chance of real accountability, CPS is clearly responsible for the death of this child.

A news article is enclosed below. The corroborating testimony of Marilyn Lafler is on YouTube or our local copy (flv).



Day Three in Springer murder Trial: CPS worker testifies the county knew Calista was chained in '04

Thu January 28, 2010

Calista Springer

KALAMAZOO--Shocking testimony revealed today in the murder trial of Calista Springer.

According to a former Child Protective Services investigator of 18 years, Patricia Skelding, St. Joseph County was aware that Calista was being chained to her bed before they closed the case back in 2004.

During the investigation into those allegations of abuse in the Springer home Calista had reported that she was being restrained to her bed by a chain.

“I believed and trusted the people in my office and community mental health that they knew what they were doing when they diagnosed her and that the overall end was that she needed to be protected, she needed to be safe, and she needed to be restrained and that the parents couldn’t be up 24 hours a day supervising her,” said Skelding.

“And so it was accepted that everyone knew that and so during my investigation when my supervisor handed me the referral she didn’t say anything about the part of Calista being chained to her bed, as if we’d already known that.”

Skelding became involved in the case after allegations surfaced that Calista reported she was not only restrained to her bed but was also being under fed, unable to use the restroom at night, forced to clean her mess if she did soil the mattress and even claimed her mother had once awaken her after she fell asleep while reading by pulling her hair with such force that it left a bald spot.

These claims were later found to be unsubstantiated and the case was closed.

The trial continued into the afternoon, hearing testimony from Calista’s teachers and educational professionals indicating that she was performing at grade level, despite being two years older than most of the students in her grade.

Several witnesses portrayed Calista as a quiet child, somewhat introverted, but eager to please and be praised. There was testimony that although there were some behavioral issues, mostly regarding petty theft or touching other student’s items, nothing was highly abnormal for a child her age at that time.

In regards to the stealing, Calista’s 5th grade English and social studies teacher, Stacy Sheehan, indicated that she was both open and honest about her wrongdoings when confronted and was “very willing to give items back.”

The prosecution seemed to end the day on a high note with the introduction of a 6th grade writing assignment of Calista’s from 2005. Peggy Roach, a 6th grade teacher at Centerville Elementary, testified that as part of the first day of class she gives her students five minutes to write a journal entry about themselves, telling the students that it would only be seen by her.

Calista wrote the following to Roach:

“I have a problem with stealing and lying. My birthday is May 22. I live in the Vincent house across the courthouse and diagonal to the Baptist church. I have a relative that was in your homeroom. I have two sisters, Courtney and Heather, two cats and a dog.”

To which, Roach responded, “who’s your relative who’s in my homeroom. Thank you for being honest about stealing and telling lies. That is the first step to working on your problem. If you need to talk to someone let me know.”

Calista responded, “…I have problems with my family and I miss my old school. I’m tired of my family and I feel like doing these things; runaway, kill myself and hide, throw all the boys out of the school except TJ and Josh. I cannot stand my family at all. I need some time alone from my family. I need to talk to someone. I want to get out of this prison at home. I want to be free instead of being in a prison. I want to be free as possible like any other teenager.”

It was this response which may have been very telling of her state of mind back in 2005.

Testimony will continue tomorrow as Calista’s closest friends are expected to take the stand.

Source: WKZO AM 590 Kalamazoo

Addendum: Two years later the state, through its courts, excuses itself from responsibility in the Springer death. In the news article below, there is no mention of the adoption. The article makes it look like social services was never involved in the girl's life, and the real parents killed her.



Calista Springer's estate can't sue state workers for her death, court rules

Calista Springer
This photo taken in June 2005 and provided by Calista Springer's grandmother, Suzanne Langdon, shows Calista at a party for her grandmother's 65th birthday.
Photo Courtesy of Suzanne Langdon

CENTREVILLE -- The family of Calista Springer cannot sue the state for her death, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

Springer's grandmother, Suzanne Langdon, acting as a representative of Calista's estate, sued the Michigan Department of Human Services and St. Joseph County Child Protective Services in October 2010, asserting that state workers failed to protect Calista from her parents, which resulted in her death.

Calista was 16 when she was found chained to her bed in an upstairs room in her family's Centreville home following a February 2008 house fire.

The appeals court combined Springer's case with that of Nicholas Daniel Braman, whose estate also sued child protective services workers after Braman's father killed Nicholas, himself and his wife in October 2007 in Montcalm County. In both cases, the court ruled that the children's estates could not sue state workers for allegedly improperly acting upon allegations of abuse.

Read the 11-page opinion issued Thursday here.

"Although plaintiffs recited several failures by the employee defendants to comply with their official CPS investigation policies and guidelines, these failures merely prove the state's failure to act, not that it was acting pursuant to a mandatory policy of inaction," the appeals court ruling says.

"Plaintiffs do not point to any official policy or custom that mandated CPS investigators to improperly investigate the abuse allegations against the decedents' parents or to fail to protect the decedents," the opinion reads.

State workers found "insufficient evidence" to substantiate allegations made against Springer's and Braman's parents, and had no basis to remove the children from their homes, according to the court.

"While the facts of these cases are indeed tragic, this is not an appropriate case in which to impose a damage remedy on the state for a state constitutional due process violation, as no violation can be established," the opinion says.

Calista's grandmother filed three separate lawsuits in October 2010, one in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, one in the state Court of Claims in Lansing, and a third in St. Joseph County Circuit Court. Each demand jury trials and seek awards “in excess of $75,000.”

The court filings provided information from Michigan State Police records about abuse and neglect complaints that Langdon said were filed by family members, teachers, a mental-health worker, friends and acquaintances.

The suits claimed St. Joseph County protective services caseworker Patricia Skelding and supervisor Cynthia Bare failed to adequately respond to documented abuse from Calista's parents, Anthony and Marsha Springer. Langdon's federal suit also named as defendants former state DHS director Marianna Udow; her chief deputy, Laura Champagne; and former state manager of DHS Child Protective Services programs Ted Forrest.

A jury in February 2010 found Anthony and Marsha Springer guilty of torture and child abuse in Calista's death. They were each sentenced to prison terms.

Allegations of abuse and neglect against the Springers began in April 1995 and included accusations of lead poisoning, untreated burns, physical and emotional abuse, restraint by ropes, and being locked in her bedroom.

Source: MLive

Another year later, a federal court further clears the child protectors.



Court: Child welfare workers cannot be sued in Springer case

Child welfare workers cannot be sued in the death of a Centreville teen who died in a 2008 fire, even if they knew she was regularly tied to her bed by her parents, a federal appeals court said.

Centreville -- Child welfare workers cannot be sued in the death of a Centreville teen who died in a 2008 fire, even if they knew she was regularly tied to her bed by her parents, a federal appeals court said.

A three-judge panel said the Department of Human Services clearly had contact with the girl and her parents long before the “undeniably tragic” death.

But the court said Calista Springer’s civil rights weren’t violated merely because state workers failed to remove her from her St. Joseph County home.

The lawsuit was filed by the 17-year-old’s grandmother on behalf of her estate. Calista died during an accidental fire while being restrained to her bed in February 2008.

Her father, Anthony Springer, and stepmother, Marsha Springer, were cleared of murder but are serving long prison sentences for torture and child abuse. The Springers were convicted in 2010. They appealed the convictions, but the decisions were upheld in September 2012 by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

The Springers said they tied Calista to her bed to prevent her from hurting herself or others.

The state had received many abuse complaints, starting in 1995. The use of restraints was reported by a teacher, deputy and a neighbor in 2004, but the investigation was ultimately closed.

A caseworker, Patricia Skelding, was uncomfortable and said she could “only hope” that the restraints were necessary. The state’s last contact was in 2005.

In her lawsuit, Langdon said Calista would have survived if she had been protected from abuse. But the appeals court said Michigan is not obligated under due process rights to protect citizens from other citizens.

“This, of course, means that there may be no recourse against the government in circumstances as tragic as those presented here,” the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said last week, affirming a similar decision by a federal judge in Grand Rapids.

Source: Cheboygan Daily Tribune

From other sources, the real parents of Calista were Anthony Springer and Norma Swegles. Anthony left Norma, taking their daughter against her will. Later Calista was adopted by Anthony and his new partner, Marsha Springer. Michigan DHS had contact with the family prior to the adoption.

burned at the stake

Please Don't Feed the CAS

January 30, 2010 permalink

Simcoe County CAS, based in Barrie, has gone hat-in-hand begging for a $10,000 loan from the town of Collingwood to get through its financial difficulties. Attila Vinczer [1] [2] has written a letter to Collingwood (pdf) urging them to refuse the loan. Another document contains the referenced working paper by the Family Justice Review Committee (pdf). Even better than refusing the loan would be for Collingwood to insist on improvements within Children's Aid as a condition for financial support.

Addendum: According to Attila Vinczer, on February 1 Collingwood voted against funding CAS. Here is a more complete submission (pdf) found later.

CFSA Submissions

January 30, 2010 permalink

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services will conduct a five-year-review of the Child and Family Services Act as required by law. In December the Ministry solicited comments to be delivered by the end of January. Here are two submitted comments, one by Canada Court Watch (pdf), the other by Robert T McQuaid in the expand block.



January 29, 2010

Laurl Broten
Minister of Children and Youth Services
Child and Family Services Act Review


Subject: Five year review of the child and family services act

Honorable Minister:

The Child and Family Services Act (section 224) provides for a periodic review of its operation. By web posting you have invited email comments.

Last February Irwin Elman, Ontario's Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, stated that 90 children had died in one year in the care of Ontario's Children's Aid Societies. In a rebuttal a few days later the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies pointed out errors in Mr Elman's assessment, stating that children's aid society involvement in some of the children occurred only after their deaths, so that only 53 died in the care of children's aid. Depending on which set of numbers you use, the death rate in foster care is seventeen or only ten higher than the death rate in the general population. Notwithstanding this unconscionable level of abuse, most children in long-term foster care reach the age of majority still alive, but lesser forms of abuse, impossible to measure on their own but reasonably scaled up at the same rate as deaths) lead to insurmountable problems once the children age out of the system. An article by Lori Culbert in the Vancouver Sun for June 27, 2008 said that for foster children aging out of care jail was more likely than high school graduation. There are many other negative outcomes such as homelessness, prostitution, mental hospitals and untimely death.

The child protection system qualifies as the greatest danger to the welfare of Canadian children. It is driven by the perverse incentives of bureaucracy. When a children's aid society provides assistance to children in their parents' home, their funding is subject to cuts in future years by the legislature. But when crown wardship severs the bond between child and parents, their future welfare depends on the generosity of the legislature in providing funds. Elected officers, such as you, are never stingy with this kind of funding, feeling that the welfare of foster children will be enhanced by generosity with appropriated funds. The funding is large enough to serve as an incentive to children's aid societies to take yet more children.

The only real way to stop this cycle is to end the use of appropriated funds for the care of children, turning the job of feeding orphans back to private charities, as it was before the development of provincial welfare systems. Since you are unlikely to do that, here are some lesser reforms that may improve the lives of children.

  • Open the process.

    The process should be open to public scrutiny at all stages. An open-records rule for Children's Aid Societies might become ineffective through foot-dragging, but applied to the courts it could work.

    Most courts dealing with criminal and civil matters are now open to public scrutiny, and family courts should be as well. Then anyone could sit in a family courtroom and more important, he could examine the document file where most of the legal action takes place, viewing the same record presented to the judge. For children as well as adults, public trial is an ordeal, but secret trial is worse.

    Such a reform could provide a remedy for families falsely accused, through reference to the court record exonerating them. Rogue Children's Aid Societies would come to public attention quickly, and scholars could sample the files to measure the level of effectiveness of child protection.

  • Allow the provincial ombudsman to review children's aid.

    The ombudsman is shut out of children's aid by law. Expanding his mandate could allow many of the abuses to come to public view in a form that would allow for early legislative correction.

  • Limitation or elimination of immunity for caseworkers

    Currently, child-protection workers are immune from all legal actions unless they can be shown to act in bad faith, placing them beyond the reach of the law even for rather blatant wrongdoing. In private meetings between caseworkers and parents, they regularly bully parents with their power. One caseworker told a father: "Fathers have no rights"; another was only slightly exaggerating when she boasted: "We have as much power as God". Giving the caseworker, not the taxpayer, civil responsibility for wrongdoing would effectively eliminate most abuse by caseworkers.

  • Never suggest divorce

    One activity that needs to be stopped is forcing a divorce on a couple against the will of both, a shotgun divorce. In tiny Dufferin county, a dozen instances were reported in just three years, a rate that suggests thousands of such cases for the province as a whole.

  • Do not seize children until after hearing both sides

    The law now in most places requires judicial authorization before child removal, but excepts children in immediate danger. In practice, children are always picked up first on pretense of emergency, and court hearings are after-the-fact. Owing to caseworker immunity, they cannot suffer from any misrepresentation.

    The law could be changed to eliminate the exception, delaying child abduction until a judge has signed a warrant on probable cause. This may have limited effectiveness, since societies with millions of dollars in revenue may get friendly judges to rubber-stamp their requests. A more meaningful reform is to require an adverse hearing in which the parents can present evidence in opposition before the issuance of an apprehension order. This would at least protect innocent families with means to hire competent counsel.

  • Trial by jury before crown-wardship

    Juries, not judges, should have the final word on removing parents from a child's life and turning them into crown wards. This protection exists now for liberty and money, things normal parents value less than their children.

  • Require that the child be in the courtroom during proceedings about him.

    This procedure is followed now in criminal matters, though not in the more consequential custody cases. There have been many instances in which a child was advised he had a legal right to be in the courtroom, but was still excluded. Requiring the child's presence would prevent consideration of the case of any child currently out of the jurisdiction of the court, even when the court had jurisdiction in the past. And as long as the child is old enough to understand, he could witness the proceedings in his own case.

  • Fully investigate all child deaths, including those in care

    The large number of deaths in children's aid care has little impact because the public only sees (disputed) numbers. Publishing the names and circumstances in each death could lead to reforms cutting the death rate. I note that a dead child cannot suffer emotional harm from publication of his case details.

  • Refusing psychotropics is not neglect

    Failure to follow a doctor's orders is now treated as neglect, so when a medical professional prescribes psychotropic drugs for a child, parents cannot refuse to administer them. In a few American states, parents now are granted authority to refuse such drugs, without that being treated as a reason for child protection intervention. Ontario should give parents the same authority.

  • People should be able to see their own records at all levels

    The records open to an adult should also include the records made of his life while in foster care. Now the disclosure of records is discretionary with CAS, allowing them to conceal wrongdoing by social workers and foster parents.

  • Outlaw anonymous reports, and fully disclose reports to family

    Anonymous reports of child abuse should be disregarded. Right now, an anonymous report is an easy way to sic CAS on a personal enemy. And parents kept in the dark may suspect the wrong accuser. In June 2003 the press reported that mother Marguerite Dias lost her children to Toronto Children's Aid. She (falsely) suspected a neighbor, Madeline Monast, attacking her with a machete and cutting off both hands. Had the identity of the accuser been disclosed to the mother, the neighbor might have kept her hands.

  • Eliminate mandated reporting

    Because of mandated reports by child care professionals (doctors, teachers, day-care operators), parents are fearful of taking an injured child to a professional. Every child care professional knows of cases in which persons have been prosecuted for non-reporting, inducing them to over-report, causing extra work for CAS, and more fears for parents. Recent trends are toward more mandatory reporting in a system that needs less compulsion and more voluntary action. Love does not come out of the barrel of a gun.

  • Notify parents when children are removed

    Several parents have reported not learning of an apprehension until their children failed to return from school, when they began frantic inquiries. Parents deserve to be notified immediately when their children are taken into custody.

  • Provide meaningful accounting of the distribution of public funds

    Currently, the published accounts do not answer the most basic questions about CAS operation: How much is spent on foster care? How much on group homes? How many child-days of care are provided? How many child-protection cases were opened? There are lots of numbers printed in the financial statements, but they do not answer the real questions.

  • Allow other family (grandparents) to get kids when parents are unfit

    The law formally favors this now, but it is infrequent.

  • Do not separate parents from children when placing with family members

    When the child of a teenaged single mother gets placed with his grandmother, the mother should continue to see the baby.

Should you need clarification or additional information, you are welcome to call or write.

Yours truly,

Robert T McQuaid
558 McMartin Road
Mattawa Ontario P0H 1V0

phone: 705-744-6274

Addendum: Recommendations (pdf) from the Foster Care Council of Canada

Addendum: A message sent in English gets a bilingual thank you/merci. Lets you know they are paying attention.



Thank you for your submission / Merci pour votre soumission

Source: email from cyberspace

Alamo Families Terminated

January 30, 2010 permalink

Six families all members of the Alamo Ministries had their parental rights terminated yesterday in Arkansas. The judge found that that they had defied his earlier order to leave church property and secure employment elsewhere. CPSWatch founder Cheryl Barnes was ejected from the courtroom. For an opinion piece, refer to Daniel Weaver.



Parental rights of six Alamo church members terminated

By Andrew Davis

A judge on Thursday terminated the parental rights of six members of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries, clearing the way for the members’ children to be put up for adoption.

The rulings by Miller County Circuit Judge Joe Griffin followed the recommendation of the Arkansas Department of Human Services, which said the parents had failed to comply with orders that they move off of church property and find jobs outside the ministry.

The rulings, which came after three days of testimony in Miller County Circuit Court in Texarkana, affected the parents of 13 children from four families.

After the hearings ended, shortly after 9 p.m. Friday, the parents hurried away from the courtroom, declining to comment as they left. One mother, Mirriam Krantz, sobbed uncontrollably, clutching her husband’s arm as he led her to a sport-utility vehicle.

Cheryl Barnes, litigation specialist for the parent advocacy group CPS Watch Legal Team, called the rulings unnecessarily harsh. She noted that Tony Alamo, the ministry’s leader, is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison. She said the parents will appeal the termination of their parental rights.

“The chances of these kids being exposed to Tony Alamo are slim to none now, and it’s just a tragedy that these families have been destroyed,” Barnes said.

A sheriff’s deputy said Griffin would have no comment on his ruling.

The proceedings were closed to the public, and Griffin has issued a gag order barring parents, attorneys and others from speaking with reporters about the case.

Julie Munsell, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Human Services, said children whose parents’ legal rights over them are terminated would typically not put up for adoption until the appeals are resolved. She said she couldn’t comment on the ministry children’s cases because of the gag order and laws requiring child welfare proceedings to be kept confidential.

The children were taken into custody in Fouke and Texarkana in September and November 2008 amid an investigation into allegations of physical and sexual abuse.

Tony Alamo, the ministry’s 75-year-old leader, was sentenced to 175 years in prison in November after being convicted of taking five underage girls across state lines for sex.

Last year, judges in Miller County ruled that the parents could be eventually reunited with their children, but only if the parents moved off of church property and found jobs outside the ministry. While some parents have complied with the orders and have been reunited with their children, others say the orders infringe on their religious freedoms.

In November 2009, the Arkansas Court of Appeals upheld the removal of five of the children, all girls. However, the court did not rule on the parents’ constitutional argument because the court said the parents did not raise the issue at the trial level.

Several other appeals are pending, and the ministry has also challenged the removals in a lawsuit in federal court. The Human Services Department has asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed.

Thank you for coming to the Web site of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. We're working to keep you informed with the latest breaking news.

This article was published January 29, 2010 at 11:01 p.m.

Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Damage Control

January 30, 2010 permalink

Wanda Secord
Wanda Secord
from Durham Region News

More on the scandal surrounding phony psychologist "doctor" Gregory Carter. For six years he had a lucrative practice providing evaluations for the Durham CAS. Each time CAS got custody of a child, the province provided funding of $30,000 per year, plus whatever extras CAS could justify by putting labels on the child. Along the way, other parts of the family destruction apparatus drained the family funds until they were penniless. Wanda Secord, Durham CAS executive director, was the person who got to spend the provincial money. Now she is claiming the status of innocent victim, trying to right the wrong done by Mr Carter. Below is an article in the Toronto Sun by a reporter who interviewed Secord. Our comments are interspersed in red.



Arrest sparks review of Durham CAS custody cases

By DON PEAT, Toronto Sun, Last Updated: 29th January 2010, 10:44am

The Durham Children's Aid Society is diving into six years' worth of files to determine the role a Whitby man accused of posing as a psychologist in court may have played in child custody cases.

Greg Carter, 63, was charged this week with three counts of fraud, two counts of obstructing justice and two counts of perjury. He'll be back in court in March.

Wanda Secord, executive director of the Durham Children's Aid Society, told the Sun Thursday the society is "very concerned" about the criminal allegations and the College of Psychologists' complaints against Carter.

She should be concerned. She was the chief beneficiary of "doctor" Carter's chicanery, but shows no indication in this interview of willingness to accept responsibility for the fiasco.

"We're taking this matter very seriously," Secord said. "We are looking at our files to determine what role (Carter) played in the cases and then we'll undertake a review if necessary."

So far, the society doesn't know how many cases he was involved in.

Carter was contracted by the society to provide services like behavioural assessments from 2003 to '09.

The CAS terminated his contract in the spring because of complaints, Secord said.

But she said the society did check with the college and at the time Carter was a member in good standing.

He's registered as a psychological associate -- not a psychologist.

Police allege Carter presented himself as a psychologist and called himself a doctor during testimony in court.

Secord added Carter was "well established in our community, having provided services to a number of other services, such as school boards and the court systems. He was a well-respected and an established practitioner in our area."

This suggests "doctor" Carter was a member of the Den of Thieves, the group of professionals switching roles from case to case, always with the objective of draining the family financially and raiding the taxpayers for reimbursements.

The work he conducted for the society fell within the range of a psychological associate, Secord said.

But she couldn't say whether the society was aware whether Carter ever claimed to be a psychologist in court for one of its cases.

Maybe she should read the papers. Christie Blatchford reported in the Globe and Mail that in one case Ontario Superior Court Justice Craig Perkins referred to him 32 times as "Dr Carter".

Despite the controversy, Secord said the society isn't reviewing the qualifications of all its professionals under contract.

The most revealing statement of all. Mrs Secord does not care whether her experts are qualified. She will only check up on them if a public scandal develops.

"We have not at this point but that's food for thought," she said.

Source: Toronto Sun

Jail safer than CAS

January 29, 2010 permalink

A Sarnia Ontario teenager in CAS custody found it so dangerous that he begged a judge to send him to jail for his protection. The judge punished the boy by sending him back to his CAS group home.



Youth demands jail

Posted By NEIL BOWEN, THE OBSERVER, January 29, 2010

A 13-year-old who demanded jail time for stealing an iPod so he could be protected from bullies was sentenced Thursday to six months probation.

The youth pleaded guilty to stealing a classmate's iPod and violating a court order to live at a designated address.

The theft was reported and school staff identified the boy as a suspect. Officials at at a group home at which he was living were notified and found him listening to the iPod.

He was grounded but ran away from the home for a short time.

Defence lawyer Don Henderson the youth feels safer in secure custody compared to group homes, where he is bullied.

He spent about a week in custody awaiting resolution of his case.

Justice Deborah Austin said she understands it's tough for him to be the youngest in a group home, but that doesn't allow her to place him into custody. She sentenced him to probation with the condition he perform 16 hours of community service.

She also scheduled a hearing in two weeks to review residential placement for the youth, who is under the supervision of the Children's Aid Society.

The youth justice act prohibits publication of his identity.

Source: Sarnia Observer

Lose Kid, Jail Mom

January 29, 2010 permalink

New York ACS took Patrick Alford from his mother and placed him in foster care in another part of the city. They lost track of him when he ran away. After police searched a swamp for his body using boats and helicopters, his name got on our list of dead foster kids. So did ACS apologize to the mother? Of course not. They have put her in jail until she reveals the whereabouts of her son. It could be a long wait if the boy is in the swamp.



Judge jails mother, believes she knows location of 7-year-old Patrick Alford

BY Barry Paddock, Michael J. Feeney and Jonathan Lemire, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS, Friday, January 29th 2010, 4:00 AM

Jennifer Rodriguez
Oates for News
Jennifer Rodriguez, mother of missing 7-year-old Patrick Alford (below), is escorted by police from Staten Island Family Court.

Patrick Alford

The biological mother of a 7-year-old who vanished from his foster home last week has been jailed by a judge who insists she's hiding the child.

Patrick Alford disappeared Friday night from the Brooklyn apartment building where he was placed with a foster family three weeks earlier.

His mother, Jennifer Rodriguez, 23, lost custody after she was arrested on theft charges and the Administration for Children's Services decided she had neglected her son.

The NYPD believes the boy may have run away alone and could be in danger. They deployed boats in the swamps near the foster family's Starrett City home and helicopters in the skies to search for him - but Patrick has yet to be found.

ACS officials and Staten Island Family Court Judge Terrence McElrath - citing Rodriguez's statements to case workers and court officers - insist that Rodriguez knows where Patrick is.

McElrath sent her to Rikers Island on Tuesday - and said yesterday he's keeping her there on contempt charges until the boy turns up.

"Did she comply with order to produce the child? No," McElrath said.

Being led out of the court, Rodriguez blurted out to reporters, "Get me out of here - call my aunt, she has him, she knows where he is."

The aunt, Blanca Toledo, 51, told the Daily News from her Brooklyn home last night that she doesn't have the boy - and has already told that to cops multiple times.

"My niece and I have a love and hate relationship," she said through tears. "I guess she has nothing else to say."

Toledo, who cared for Patrick before he was put in foster care, said the family is furious at her because she told ACS about attempts Rodriguez allegedly made to "kidnap" the boy.

Cops also interviewed a relative in Baltimore based on a tip - but he wasn't there, police said.

Patrick was last seen with his foster mother, Librada Moran, 58, in the lobby of the Spring Creek Development at 9p.m. Friday, police said.

"The foster mother was putting out the trash," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. "Next thing you know, he's gone."

With Sarah Armaghan

Source: New York Daily News

Addendum: Mother Jennifer Rodriguez was released from jail on February 2.

Addendum: Litigation two years later claims the ACS committed multiple errors in the Alford case.



Foster fiasco

Boy on run two years after ‘bungle’

It’s a colossal foster-care nightmare that ended with the disappearance of a 7-year-old boy two years ago — and it didn’t have to happen.

Top-notch lawyers appointed by a judge to represent the interests of missing Patrick Alford claim that the child, who vanished from his Brooklyn foster home, could have been safe today if not for glaring missteps by city child-welfare workers.

The lawyers argue that the employees with the city’s Administration for Children’s Service outrageously misled the Family Court in their bid to prove the child was in danger and even required placement in foster care in the first place.

Jennifer Rodriguez
SAD: Mom Jennifer Rodriguez hopes for the return of Patrick (below), as ACS is under fire for putting him in foster care.
NY Post: Chad Rachman
Patrick Alford

It’s not clear why the workers did what they did to justify taking the boy. But they failed to disclose to a Family Court judge that, at the time, the child had actually been living at an aunt’s house and not with his mother, who was battling drug-addiction problems, lawyer Jonathan Lerner argued in papers filed in Brooklyn federal court.

Child-welfare workers lied in a sworn affidavit by “falsely representing to the court” there was “an imminent danger to the child’s life” if he was not immediately removed, “when in truth” young Patrick “was in no danger, imminent or otherwise, from continuing in his aunt’s care,” the documents state.

Lerner, a senior attorney at the white-shoe firm of Skadden Arps now serving as pro-bono counsel for the child, said ACS “made no assessment” that the aunt’s temporary custody of the boy “posed any danger” when its workers decided to seize Patrick on Dec. 29, 2009.

When ACS workers met again with the aunt two weeks later, they even deemed her suitable to serve as a temporary guardian for the boy. But for reasons that are unclear, the child nevertheless continued to remain in the foster home until his disappearance, Lerner wrote in the scathing court papers.

Patrick, who would now be 9 years old, was last seen on the night of Jan. 22, 2010, after he apparently slipped off while taking out the trash with his foster mom at her East New York home.

Adding to the debacle, ACS put him with a foster mother who spoke only Spanish, even though Patrick spoke only English.

The child, who had documented emotional and educational issues, was so unhappy that he began to experience psychiatric problems and tried to run away on several occasions.

Despite a psychologist’s assessment that the boy urgently needed medication and psychiatric care, ACS failed to take immediate action to help the boy, Lerner charged.

This chain of events prompted a federal judge overseeing the lawsuit about the child’s disappearance to suggest that — if proven — the city could be liable for damages.

Lawyers for the city strongly dispute the claim that ACS workers deliberately misled a Family Court judge and contend that facts arose that led them to believe that leaving Patrick with relatives was not a good option.

Source: New York Post

Addendum: Three years after Patrick's disappearance lawyers for Jennifer Rodriguez are proceding as if Patrick is dead.



Staten Island mom has given up hope of seeing her son, Patrick Alford, alive

Jennifer Rodriguez with picture of Patrick Alford

Jennifer Rodriguez has given up hope of seeing her son Patrick Alford again. He was in foster care when he was last seen on Jan. 22, 2010.

Advance File Photo

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - A New Brighton woman, whose son vanished three years ago from a Brooklyn foster home, has apparently given up hope of seeing him alive.

Jennifer Rodriguez, 25, recently amended her federal lawsuit against the city and other parties, to include a wrongful-death claim.

Her son, Patrick Alford Jr., then 7, was last seen on Friday, Jan. 22, 2010, at 9 p.m. in the vicinity of 130 Vandalia Ave., in East New York's Spring Creek Development. About three weeks before, the boy had been placed in the foster care of Librada Moran, who lived at that location.

Under state law, a person missing for three years "whose absence is not satisfactorily explained ... after diligent search" is presumed dead.

The boy was put in the foster home after Ms. Rodriguez, his biological mother, lost custody of him and her two daughters after she was arrested on theft charges. Patrick was placed with Ms. Moran.

Ms. Moran told police Patrick was with her when she took out the trash, then disappeared when she turned to answer her cell phone.

Ms. Rodriguez was jailed a week later by a Family Court judge who believed she was involved in Patrick's disappearance. She was released after several days when the city Administration for Children's Services determined that was not the case.

Ms. Rodriguez later sued the city, Ms. Moran, the foster care agency and others in Brooklyn federal court, accusing them of negligence.

The boy's father, Patrick Alford Sr., has filed a similar federal lawsuit. Both actions are pending.

According to Ms. Rodriguez's lawsuit, Patrick was "extremely distraught" in foster care and tried to run away several times. He allegedly attacked other children in the foster home and "engaged in destructive acts toward property" there.

On the day before he disappeared, Patrick screamed that he wanted to go home and tried to cut open his arm with a large pair of scissors, allege Ms. Rodriguez's court filings. Ms. Moran restrained him, according to those documents.

Ms. Rodriguez further alleges there was a communication problem between Patrick and his foster mother. Ms. Moran didn't speak English; Patrick didn't speak Spanish, she alleged.

Robert Osuna, a lawyer for Ms. Rodriguez, did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the amended complaint, which seeks unspecified monetary damages. Attempts to reach Ms. Rodriguez by phone were unsuccessful.

James R. Lambert, the lawyer for Patrick Alford Sr., said his client doesn't plan at this point to amend his complaint to allege wrongful death.

"We hold out hope he's still alive and the police will find him," said Lambert, who is based in Dongan Hills. "My client hopes the boy will walk through the front door."

In a court filing, a lawyer for the city said the Police Department "continues to vigorously pursue" the probe into Patrick's whereabouts and will do so until there's a resolution.

Attorney Suzanne M. Halbardier said the city would not oppose the family's petitioning the Surrogate's Court to have Patrick declared dead and an administrator appointed for his estate.

However, she also said it would be "premature" for the federal court to approve Ms. Rodriguez's amended wrongful death complaint.

The attorney at the law firm representing Patrick's interests could not immediately be reached for comment on the amended complaint. 

Source: Staten Island Advance

Foster Luxury

January 29, 2010 permalink

Children in Ontario's foster care system often get accommodations in sub-standard housing, get a typical allowance of $10 per week and sometimes get a nutritionally inadequate diet. Here is a story of a foster teenager who gets a three-bedroom 1,800 square foot home to himself and lives on an allowance of $150 per week. He has two caseworkers looking after him, one during the day and another at night. What makes him so special? He is an accused sex criminal. No, this is not a spoof from the Onion.



Sex crime suspect, 14, lives 'like a king'

14-year-old alone in group home, By TOM GODFREY, QMI Agency

Peel Children's Aid
Tracy MacIsaac of Peel Children's Aid wouldn't comment on allegations that a teen facing sex charges is living in a $350,000 home, collecting $150-a-week in allowance.
(Dave Abel/QMI Agency)

TORONTO - A 14-year-old boy facing sex charges in Toronto is the sole resident of a $350,000 Mississauga group home and gets $150 a week for allowance, officials say.

The youth, who can't be identified because of his age, is supervised by a case worker during the day and another at night, the Toronto Sun learned on Thursday.

The home is run by the Children's Aid Society.

The case surfaced two weeks ago after the youth was arrested in Downsview by police and charged with sex offences against a male family member.

Det.-Const. Michelle Bond of 31 Division Family Services Unit said the boy was charged under the Criminal Code for sex offences and is before the courts. He was released at a bail hearing providing he remains at the home.

Officers from 31 Division said they were called to a North York address by a person urgently requesting help.

Sources said the boy was allowed to visit family members as part of a rehabilitation program when the incident occurred.

He has been living at the group home in a new Peel subdivision since 2008.

Officials were surprised to learn the youth was the only resident of a home that "any family would want."

The boy, who has the latest computer games, receives his allowance in addition to having his meals prepared and laundry washed, sources said.

"He lives like a king," one insider said. "I am concerned as a citizen as to how much money is being spent on this case."

"About 90% of the neighbours on that street won't know there's a group home among them," one worker said. "It is in a nice neighbourhood with new homes."

Sources said a number of CAS group homes in the GTA are for use by single youths. This one is a three-bedroom home, about 1,800 square feet, not intended for more than one resident.

Peter Spadoni, a spokesman for the ministry of children and youth services, said his officials couldn't comment on the case as it involves a youth before the courts.

"We just don't have enough information and it is not something we would talk about," Spadoni said on Thursday.

Rob Thompson of the Toronto Children's Aid Society couldn't comment because of privacy laws.

"Once a person is in the care of the CAS, the amount of information that can be given out is almost zero," Thompson said.

Tracy MacIsaac of Peel Children's Aid said she also couldn't comment because of privacy laws.

Thanks to Karen for finding this item

Large Breasts Only

January 28, 2010 permalink

Australia bans erotica with small-breasted women because of the similarity to child pornography. Erotica requires large-breasted women only.



Cory Doctorow, POSTED AT 9:22 PM January 28, 2010

Australian censor board demands large-breasted porn-stars

A reader writes, "Australian Classification Board (ACB) is now banning depictions of small-breasted women in adult publications and films. They banned mainstream pornography from showing women with A-cup breasts, apparently on the grounds that they encourage paedophilia, and in spite of the fact this is a normal breast size for many adult women. Presumably small breasted women taking photographs of themselves will now be guilty of creating simulated child pornography, to say nothing of the message this sends to women with modestly sized chests or those who favour them. Australia has also banned pornographic depictions of female ejaculation, a normal orgasmic sexual response in many women, with censors branding it as 'abhorrent.'"

The Board has also started to ban depictions of small-breasted women in adult publications and films. This is in response to a campaign led by Kids Free 2 B Kids and promoted by Barnaby Joyce and Guy Barnett in Senate Estimates late last year. Mainstream companies such as Larry Flint's Hustler produce some of the publications that have been banned. These companies are regulated by the FBI to ensure that only adult performers are featured in their publications. "We are starting to see depictions of women in their late 20s being banned because they have an A cup size", she said. "It may be an unintended consequence of the Senator's actions but they are largely responsible for the sharp increase in breast size in Australian adult magazines of late".

Source: Boingboing blog

large breasts

Homeschoolers Flee Germany

January 28, 2010 permalink

The United States has granted asylum to the German Romeike family fleeing from persecution for homeschooling.



US grants home schooling German family political asylum

Couple who fled to Tennessee fearing persecution for keeping their children out of school win first case of its kind in US

Daniel Nasaw in Washington,, Wednesday 27 January 2010 19.45 GMT

Uwe Romeike with wife Hannelore and children
Uwe Romeike and his wife Hannelore work with their children.
Photograph: Wade Payne/AP

A US judge has granted ­political asylum to a German family who said they had fled the country to avoid persecution for home schooling their children.

In the first reported case of its kind, Tennessee immigration judge Lawrence Burman ruled that the family of seven have a legitimate fear of prosecution for their beliefs. Germany requires parents to enrol their children in school in most cases and has levied fines against those who ­educate their children at home.

Christians Uwe Romeike, a piano teacher, and his wife, Hannelore, moved to Morristown, Tennessee, in 2008 after ­German authorities fined them thousands of euros for keeping their children out of school and sent police to escort them to classes, Romeike said. They had been holding classes in their home.

Along with thousands of torture victims, political dissidents, members of religious minorities and other persecuted groups who win political asylum every year, the Romeike family will now be free to live and work in the US. The case does not create a legal precedent unless the US government appeals and a higher immigration court hears the case.

"Home schoolers in Germany are a particular social group, which is one of the protected grounds under the asylum law," said Mike Connelly, attorney for the Home School Legal Defence Association, who argued the case. "This judge looked at the evidence, he heard their testimony, and he felt that the way Germany is treating home schoolers is wrong. The rights being violated here are basic human rights."

In 2006 the Romeikes pulled their children out of a state school in Bissingen, Germany, in protest of what they deemed an anti-Christian curriculum.

They said textbooks presented ideas and language that conflicted with their Christian beliefs, including slang terms for sex acts and images of vampires and witches, while the school offered what they described as ethics lessons from Islam, Buddhism and other religions. The eldest son got into fights in school and the eldest daughter had trouble studying.

"I think it's important for parents to have the freedom to chose the way their children can be taught," Romeike told the Associated Press.

About 1.5 million US children are taught at home. In Morristown, a town of about 27,000, the Romeikes have connected with other home schooling families, organising field trips and other activities.

The German consul general for the southeastern US said in a statement that mandatory school attendance ensures a high education standard for all children, adding that parents have many educational options.

In 2008, the US government received more than 47,000 applications for political asylum and granted 10,743, including four from Germany.

Connelly said this was the first time home schooling had been the central issue in a US political asylum case.

Source: Guardian (UK)

Three years later, they are ordered deported from the US.



Court Rules Against German Homeschool Family Seeking Asylum

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Obama Administration’s decision to deny asylum to a German homeschooling family.

The Romeike family fled their German homeland in 2008 seeking political asylum in the United States – where they hoped to home school their children. Instead, the Obama administration wants the evangelical Christian family deported.

An Immigration judge granted them asylum in 2010 after the family revealed they were facing criminal prosecution for homeschooling their children. That decision was later overturned by the Board of Immigration Appeals in 2012.

The court ruled today that the Romeikes had not made a sufficient case and that the United States has not opened its doors to every victim of unfair treatment.

“Congress might have written the immigration laws to grant a safe haven to people living elsewhere in the world who face government strictures the United States Constitution prohibits,” the court ruled. “But it did not.”

Michael Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, vowed to appeal the decision.

“America has room for this family and we will do everything we can to help them,” Farris said.

The court did rule that parents do have a right to direct the education and upbringing of their children. However, they refused to concede that the harsh treatment of religiously motivated homeschoolers in Germany amounts to persecution within our laws.

“Germany continues to persecute homeschoolers,” said Mike Donnelly, the HSLDA’s director of international affairs. “The court ignored mountains of evidence that homeschoolers are harshly fined and that custody of their children is gravely threatened—something most people would call persecution. This is what the Romeikes will suffer if they are sent back to Germany.”

The Justice Dept. is arguing that German law banning home schooling does not violate the family’s human rights.

“They are trying to send a family back to Germany where they would certainly lose custody of their children,” Farris told Fox News. “Our government is siding with Germany.”

Farris said the Germans ban home schools because “they don’t want to have religious and philosophical minorities in their country.”

“That means they don’t want to have significant numbers of people who think differently than what the government thinks,” he said. “It’s an incredibly dangerous assertion that people can’t think in a way that the government doesn’t approve of.”

He said the Justice Dept. is backing that kind of thinking and arguing ‘it is not a human rights violation.”

Farris said he finds great irony that the Obama administration is releasing thousands of illegal aliens – yet wants to send a family seeking political asylum back to Germany.

“Eleven million people are going to be allowed to stay freely – but this one family is going to be shipped back to Germany to be persecuted,” he said. “It just doesn’t make any sense.”

While the family awaits their fate, the Romeikes have built a new life in eastern Tennessee.

Uwe, a classically-trained pianist, relocated their brood to a four-acre farm in the shadow of the Smokey Mountains in eastern Tennessee. And with the help of a generous community, the family adjusted to their new home - complete with chickens, ducks and a dog named Julie.

“We are very happy here to be able to freely follow our conscience and to home school our children,” he told Fox News. “Where we live in Tennessee is very much like where we lived in Germany.”

Uwe said he was extremely disappointed that their petition to seek asylum was appealed by the Obama administration.

“If we go back to Germany we know that we would be prosecuted and it is very likely the Social Services authorities would take our children from us,” he said.

Uwe said German schools were teaching children to disrespect authority figures and used graphic words to describe sexual relations. He said the state believed children must be “socialized.”

“The German schools teach against our Christian values,” he said. “Our children know that we home school following our convictions and that we are in God’s hands. They understand that we are doing this for their best – and they love the life we are living in America on our small farm.”

Daniel, the oldest son, said he and his siblings have adjusted to their new home -- learning English and meeting other teenagers -- and of course -- the freedom to home school.

"I can learn a lot from my parents, much more than I could learn from school," he said.

Daniel loves to work with wood -- building sheds, and candle holders and designing contraptions. One day, he hopes to become an mechanical engineer.

But the teenager's fate is in uncertain until the courts rule.

"I hope this is not the end of the story," Romeike told Fox News. "If we get deported, we will certainly face fines and if we don't pay we might have to go to jail -- or worst of all -- they might take custody of our children."


There is a video by the HSLDA on the Romeike family. YouTube and local copy (mp4).

Amber Alert

January 27, 2010 permalink

An Amber alert was issued today for three-year-old Madison Young of Etobicoke Ontario, and the girl was picked up hours later unharmed. As usual in this kind of case, news sources erase the original record almost immediately, but we did find one copy of the alert and a news article with pictures, both enclosed below.

The real reason for the "abduction" is in the news from another source below:

The Children’s Aid Society had obtained a court order granting them temporary custody of the child. Arrangements were made for the mother to drop off her child to CAS offices on Tuesday, said Det. Sgt. Madelaine Tretter with 22 Division.

She never showed up.



Ontario Provincial Police - Amber Alert

Posted on: Wed, 27 Jan 2010 11:21:00 EST

TORONTO, Jan. 27, 2010 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX) --

THE Toronto POLICE SERVICE HAS REQUESTED AN "AMBER ALERT" FOR AN ABDUCTED CHILD IN THE 120 Seventh Street Etobicoke (in the area of the Home Depot) AREA.

Last seen in the Home Depot parking lot area last night (26Jan2010) with an unknown female.

Victim details:YOUNG, Madison, DOB: 2006/11/03 (f) 2 feet tall, 31-40 lbs, chin length brown wavy hair, brown eyes. Clothing possibly wearing a pink winter jacket.

Childs mother Sarah YOUNG age 33 yrs, (f) light black skin, freckled face, brown eyes, wears glasses, long brown partly gray curly hair, approximately 99 lbs, May or may not be with child or with unknown female.

(Photo available from the Toronto Police Service)

Believed to be in the company of: Unknown Female and or mother Sarah YOUNG

Vehicle Information: Sky Blue SUV, (no additional information)

If observed call 911.

This Amber Alert broadcast request will end at 3:30 PM, unless a further extension is requested.

SOURCE: Ontario Provincial Police - Amber Alert

SOURCE: Ontario Provincial Police

MEDIA Contact: Toronto Police Service Phone: (416) 808-2254

Source: Trading Markets

Missing girl found safe, mother taken to hospital under police guard

Ryan Cripps, Global News: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 5:12 PM

Madison Young and Sarah Young
Police have now found a 3-year-old and her mother after an Amber Alert was issued on January 27, 2010.
Photo Credit: Toronto Police Handout

The search for a missing 3-year-old girl is now over, after the little girl and her mother were found at a Mississauga hotel on Wednesday afternoon.

An Amber Alert was issued Wednesday morning for the little girl, who had last been seen three days ago at her home on Seventh Street, near Lake Shore Blvd. W. & Islington Ave. in Etobicoke.

The girl and her mother were located at about 3:00 p.m. and taken to a Toronto police station in Etobicoke.

"The little girl was very cheerful," said Detective Patrick McGrade of Toronto police at a news conference late Wednesday afternoon.

"We provided her with a couple of teddy bears and a couple of books."

Det. McGrade said the girl is now in the custody of the Catholic Children's Aid Society and is in good health.

The girl's mother, upon arriving at Toronto Police 22 Division, complained of a medical condition. She was treated by EMS and taken to a local hospital under police guard.

Det. McGrade said the mother "is going to be questioned" after she is released from the hospital.

Police had been searching a three kilometre radius around the little girl's home. Officers on foot were being assisted by the mounted unit and the K-9 unit.

Police say a warrant was issued for the apprehension of the 3-year-old girl, and arrangements were made by the Catholic CAS to have the mother turn over the child to them.

When they went to the mother's home, the mother and child were not there and police were contacted.

Source: Global Toronto

Addendum: The mother who cared for her own baby has been arrested as a kidnapper.



Sarah Young
The mother was taken to hospital on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010 after being taken into custody.

Mother charged in aftermath of Amber Alert case

Updated: Thu Jan. 28 2010 2:06:25 PM,

A Toronto mother has been charged with parental child abduction after disappearing with her daughter, triggering an Amber Alert on Wednesday.

Police issued the alert on Wednesday morning, saying they were worried about the three-year-old girl's safety.

A maid at the Avenue Motel in Mississauga noticed the pair on Wednesday afternoon and contacted police. When police arrived, they found the mother trying to hide with her daughter in a stairwell, CTV Toronto reported.

Det. Patrick McGrade said Wednesday that the little girl was cheerful when they found her. "We provided her with a couple of teddy bears, a couple of books," he said.

The mother complained of a medical problem after being taken to 22 Division headquarters in Etobicoke and was transported by ambulance to St. Joseph's hospital.

Her daughter will be placed in a foster home as a temporary measure.

The 33-year-old mother was supposed to surrender her daughter to the Children's Aid Society on Tuesday. The agency had obtained a temporary custody order.

However, she never showed up.

By 11 a.m. Wednesday, police obtained permission to issue an Amber Alert, which allows them to highly publicize the fact that a child is missing and possibly in danger.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Jim Junkin

Source: CTV

Impostor Shrink Arrested

January 26, 2010 permalink

Wanna know why those parenting capacity assessments always favor children's aid? Maybe it's because the shrinks conducting them are fakes.

Alleged doctor Gregory Carter provided reports and services for his client, the Children's Aid Society of Durham. His credentials were fake, and he has been arrested.



office of Gregory Carter office of Gregory Carter
Ron Pietroniro / Metroland
WHITBY -- The office of Gregory Carter is in the Dundas-Centre Medical building at 220 Dundas Street West. Mr. Carter has been charged by the Durham Regional Police. January 26, 2010.

Whitby 'doctor' faked credentials, police allege

January 26, 2010, By Jeff Mitchell

DURHAM -- Police have laid criminal charges against a Whitby man, alleging he committed perjury by presenting false professional credentials while testifying in child custody cases.

Gregory Carter presented himself as a psychologist and dubbed himself a doctor while testifying about the suitability of people to care for children, police and other complainants allege. Mr. Carter, who has a long-standing practice in Whitby and associations with agencies including the Durham Children's Aid Society, was charged Monday with fraud, perjury and obstructing justice.

The development came as a relief to one Clarington man who has complained to both police and Ontario's College of Psychologists. The man lost custody of his granddaughter after a 2006 family court trial in which Mr. Carter testified on behalf of the birth father.

"I'm quite pleased," said Mr. B., whose full name can't be used to protect the child's identity. "He's been doing this for years and no one has stopped him until now."

He suggested court cases Mr. Carter has been involved in ought to be subject to review.

Mr. Carter, 63, did not return messages left Tuesday at his home and at his Whitby office. The allegations against him have not been proven in court.

Mr. Carter is registered with the College of Psychologists as a psychological associate. According to the college's website, he is authorized to work with children and families, but is prohibited from independently diagnosing symptoms or disorders, and is required to perform duties under the supervision of a qualified psychologist.

The website also indicates at least two complaints have been made, alleging Mr. Carter breached the limitations placed on him.

Mr. B. said Mr. Carter presented critical evidence during his family's custody battle in a Durham family court proceeding, including an assertion Mr. B. is "narcissistic" and hostile towards the child's father. In explaining his decision, a judge said Mr. Carter's testimony "tips the balance" in favour of the father, according to a transcript.

Mr. B. feels the case was decided by testimony from a witness who wasn't qualified to offer an opinion. The outcome was devastating to him and his wife, he said.

"A 10-year-old girl has been forced against her wishes to leave the only home she has ever known and we have been left both emotionally and financially ruined in our retirement years," Mr. B. said. He said he and others have contacted a lawyer about launching a civil suit.

In a letter responding to Mr. B's complaint Mr. Carter indicates he completed a Masters Degree in 1978 and pursued further education, including a doctorate obtained from Pacific Western University in 1991. Pacific Western, renamed California Miramar University in 2007, was the subject of controversy in 2004 when American media outlets alleged the school was a "diploma mill" offering expedited credentials for a price.

Mr. Carter operates a practice out of a professional building on Dundas Street West in Whitby. He is past president of the board of Durham Mental Health Services and has been associated with the Durham Children's Aid Society. Among his duties for the CAS was carrying out parenting capacity assessments, said spokeswoman Andrea Maenza.

Such assessments play a role in determining if children remain with their parents or are made wards of the Crown, she said. While performing assessments Mr. Carter had limited access to CAS records, she confirmed.

Mr. Carter's involvement with the CAS was suspended recently and the agency is awaiting the outcome of the college's investigation into complaints against him, Ms. Maenza said.

"We've made no judgment," she said. "We'll let the college takes its course ... and then we'll determine whether or not we'll pursue any other contracts with him."

Rob Adams, executive director of Durham Mental Health Services, said Mr. Carter has served as a volunteer director, assisting with agency governance and strategic direction.

"He had no involvement in the agency's day to day operations or client services and supports," Mr. Adams said.

Mr. Carter is scheduled to appear in court in March. A police investigation continues; call 905-579-1520, extension 2704.

Source: Metroland News

Addendum: The testimony of the phony shrink forced a father to share custody of his children with their mother in a decision made after the father had pointed out Carter's fake credentials to the court. A real shrink says the mother now is a danger to the care of the children. She allegedly restrained the nine-year-old by throwing him to the ground and sitting on him. Children's aid has refused to remove the children from the mother.



Dad lost his kids due to bogus doctor


Greg Carter business card
An alleged victim of Greg Carter's - who cannot be identified - holds a business card identifying him as Dr. Carter.
(Ernest Doroszuk/QMI Agency)

WHITBY, Ont. -- A child custody battle is an ugly, twisted jungle at the best of times, but a Whitby father never stood a chance after family court accepted a disparaging assessment done by a man posing as a psychologist.

And ignored the one by the true PhD.

Now the terrified 48-year-old dad must share custody of his two young boys with a woman who the real psychologist has warned is mentally ill and poses a danger to their care.

Greg Carter, 63, has been charged with three counts of fraud, two counts of obstructing justice and two counts of perjury for allegedly impersonating a psychologist.

He is also facing a complaint of professional misconduct by Ontario's College of Psychologists.

"Nobody should go through what I went through," says "Mr. S", the angry father who can't be named because the case involves the Children's Aid. "If he had kept his unqualified opinion to himself, my children would be safe and we wouldn't have lost all our money to lawyers."

The dad had his suspicions after Carter presented an assessment to family court that said the father had a narcissistic personality disorder -- despite never meeting him -- while administering one test on his ex-wife to completely dismiss an exhaustive, 37-page evaluation by a highly respected psychologist who diagnosed her with a borderline personality disorder.

Rattled by his findings, Mr. S. contacted the College of Psychologists of Ontario and discovered that Carter was not a psychologist at all, but a psychological associate whose registration stipulated that he was not allowed to make an independent diagnosis without the supervision of a qualified psychologist.

He had also told the court that he had a PhD from Pacific Western University, the now-defunct school that awarded degrees based on "life experience" and was branded a "diploma mill" in a report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs.

"I can't believe nobody checked his credentials until I came along," says Mr. S.

What's even more astounding is that Justice Alexander Sosna was then presented with a letter from the College outlining Carter's restrictions -- and the fact that he wasn't a psychologist as advertised -- but still chose to accept the bogus doc's assessment and set aside the damning one by the real psychologist.

The judge, who has a background in criminal, not family law, rejected the dad's bid for sole custody, threw him out of the matrimonial home and ordered him to pay his ex-wife's $13,000 in legal costs within 90 days or he wouldn't be able to see his kids at all.

He had to go to the bank to get a loan because the protracted custody battle had wiped out his $400,000 in savings. But the drain on his finances pales beside his constant fear of what will happen to his sons in their mother's care.

He doesn't understand why a former criminal lawyer is ruling in family court.

"Carter is just one piece of a whole broken puzzle," insists the beleaguered father.

But an integral piece. Mr. S. went on to launch a complaint of professional misconduct against him with the College as did the real psychologist.

"He has been masquerading as a psychologist for some time and had deceived myself and the public about his credentials," the doctor wrote Mr. S. "His conduct is simply unethical."

Carter did not respond to messages left at his home and his Whitby office.

He did offer a tepid mea culpa in a December 2008 letter. "While my concerns are not groundless, I now believe that expressing them in written form based on the information I had was wrong. I owe Mr. S. an apology for that mistake."

But his apology will not give Mr. S. sole custody of his children or undo the harm Carter has allegedly caused in at least two other child custody disputes, including one where his testimony led to a granddaughter being wrenched away from her grandparents after she'd spent most of her 10 years in their care.

"What's an apology if you don't fix the problem you created?" demands the heartbroken father. "He's got to have affected hundreds of people. He's been doing it for 18 years."

And that is why all of his cases need to be reviewed if he is found guilty.

In the meantime, what about all the poor children?

In Mr. S's case, the Children's Aid is now involved after the mom allegedly restrained the 9-year-old by throwing him to the ground and sitting on him. In a list of written expectations on a CAS contract, his ex-wife has been told that her discipline "at no time shall include sitting on either child."

The worried dad has pleaded with them to remove the boys from her care, especially now that Carter's assessment has been discredited, but they refuse.

They say there is nothing they can do but monitor the situation. After all, there's two conflicting psychological reports and the judge accepted the one by Carter.

They don't seem unduly concerned that he's a man now facing charges for fraud.


quack shrink


January 26, 2010 permalink

For at least fourteen years all juveniles transported to and from courts in New York traveled in shackles. Since children appearing in New York City courts usually came from upstate, this meant hundreds of miles of travel while shackled.



City Room - Blogging From the Five Boroughs, January 26, 2010, 1:30 pm

Juvenile Offenders Shackled Illegally, Judge Rules


juvenile prisoner in handcuffs, waist chains and leg shackles
Legal Aid Society
A juvenile prisoner in handcuffs, waist chains and leg shackles.

The agency that runs the state’s juvenile prison system routinely violates the law by shackling youthful offenders when taking them to court even in cases in which the youth poses no obvious threat, a state judge ruled on Tuesday.

The ruling, by Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr. of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, would repeal a policy of the state’s youth prison system that has been in place since at least 1996. The case, a class-action lawsuit on behalf of about 500 youths held in units run by the state’s Office of Children and Family Services, was brought by the Legal Aid Society.

The suit’s named plaintiff is John F., a teenager who was kept in shackles — hands and feet cuffed, with a belly chain linked to the handcuffs — for roughly 15 hours on one day in November 2007.

Justice Tingling issued his decision as a summary judgment against state officials, who did not contest the facts of the case, meaning it is unlikely that they would win an appeal.

“The court’s recognition that O.C.F.S. cannot treat children this way is part and parcel of a culture of abusive practices that is not rehabilitative and does not reorganize that these are children who are in the care of the state,” said Nancy Rosenbloom, the Legal Aid lawyer leading the case.

A spokesman for the agency said that officials there could not comment until they had reviewed the decision.

The agency’s current policy requires any child in custody to be shackled while being taken between state facilities or from a facility to anywhere else, such as a courthouse. While most of the prison units are far upstate, most of the youths are from New York City and must be transported hundreds of miles for routine appearances in Family Court.

The shackling policy even covered youths being held at what are known as nonsecure facilities.

“We had evidence of kids not being able to drink their milk on the way to court because of the chains,” Ms. Rosenbloom said.

Justice Tingling found that the policy violated the state’s own law on shackling youths in custody, which dictates that shackles be used only as a last resort, for youth who are out of control and dangerous, and then only for half an hour. Shackles can be used during transport only, the judge found, when the youths pose a physical threat.

While the ruling covers shackling only during transportation to and from court, and only children from New York City, it will most likely force the Office of Children and Family Services to revise its overall policy on shackling.

Below, a diagram from a training manual from the Office of Children and Family Services illustrates how to shackle children.

shackle manual

Source: New York Times

CPS Kills Mother

January 26, 2010 permalink

The coroner will record it as a suicide, but CPS killed Arizona mother Brenda Suzanne Ownby.



Woman hit by multiple vehicles on I-17 after jumping from car

by Natalie Rivers, Posted on January 25, 2010 at 12:32 PM, Updated yesterday at 8:06 PM

Brenda Suzanne Ownby suicide

PHOENIX - A fatality on Interstate 17 resulted in the freeway being shut down for much of the late morning and afternoon near the accident scene at Thomas Road.

Lt. Robert Lee Bailey said at about 10:15 a.m. the Department of Public Safety received a call of a person who fell out of their vehicle and on to the roadway on the northbound lanes of the I-17 under the Grand Avenue overpass near the HOV lane.

According to DPS the woman was stuck by one vehicle and that vehicle was rear-ended by a utility truck.

DPS confirmed the Phoenix woman had just lost custody of her children and apparently committed suicide by jumping out of the back seat of a crew-cab truck she was riding in with her mother and sister.

The woman has been identified as Brenda Suzanne Ownby, 36. She died on scene.

According to Ownby's family she had been quiet and hadn't said much after leaving court before the incident.

The freeway re-opened just before 2:30 p.m.

Source: KTVK Phoenix

CAS Abuses Children

January 26, 2010 permalink

Canada Court Watch reports on two cases in which children are abused, in one case by their mother who is a CAS worker, in the other case by a foster mother.



Teens claim CAS workers concealed abuse and criminal assault by their mother

(January 20, 2010) Court Watch interviewed two teens independently on videotape who both claimed that they reported to CAS workers that they were physically and emotionally abused by their mother over a long period of time but that CAS workers told them that this was OK because their mother was under stress because she had left the home and taken the kids with her. In one incident the children said that they told CAS workers how the mother put one boy's head face down in a sink of water, not once but four times repeatedly while he choked and gasped for air to keep himself alive. The teens described how their mother had a temper which she could not control. Court Watch suspects that CAS workers kept silent for political reasons because the mother works as a child and youth worker herself and works closely with the CAS. The testimony from these children will be emailed out to all the MPP's in Ontario and will shock all those who read it. This story is yet another example to support why CAS workers must be required to electronically record their meetings with children. It's time to put an end to CAS cover-up and abuse of children. To you CAS workers who read this site, we now know who you are and you know who this mother is. As is right, there will be a formal complaint made against you in the near future so get ready for your CAS agency to be exposed for doing shoddy work in the community to protect children.

Source: Canada Court Watch January 20, 2010

More very recent CAS foster home abuse

(January 22, 2010) Court Watch was contacted by a teen who has reported that residents in the CAS foster home were only allowed one glass of milk per day by a single foster mother who ruled over the kids with an iron fist. According to the foster teen because the mother was single, paid CAS staff were constantly coming into her home to sit the foster children in care. All of this at taxpayer expense of course! It was reported that this foster mother took trips to Germany each year with the money she made of the CAS foster kids. The one teen reported that she was forced to wear another foster teens old shoes. While the Ontario Government pays CAS to feed and cloth children, CAS foster parents are pocketing the extra money and making the kids suffer. It was also reported that this foster mother beat and kicked the kids in care but as usual nobody listened, not even the Office of the Children's Lawyer. The teen started writing down in her journal about some of the abuse she was being exposed to only to have CAS workers come into her room and steal her journal to ensure that information does not get out into the public.

Abuse of children in care is going on right now and the Ontario Government does nothing.

Source: Canada Court Watch January 22, 2010

Addendum: Here is yet another case from Canada Court Watch:



CAS workers blackmailing children in care

(January 28, 2010) Court Watch was contacted by a teen today who has reported that children in care at his foster home are being threatened with having their access visits with their parents cancelled if they attempt to exercise their lawful right to contact their biological parents outside of the times that CAS has decided. The teen has provided us with names and the address of the foster home and details of the threats.

Source: Canada Court Watch January 28, 2010

Below Charles Dickens comments on starving children for profit:



Upon this the parish authorities magnanimously and humanely resolved, that Oliver should be "farmed," or, in other words, that he should be despatched to a branch-workhouse some three miles off, where twenty or thirty other juvenile offenders against the poor-laws, rolled about the floor all day, without the inconvenience of too much food or too much clothing, under the parental superintendence of an elderly female, who received the culprits at and for the consideration of sevenpence-halfpenny per small head per week. Sevenpence-halfpenny's worth per week is a good round diet for a child; a great deal may be got for sevenpence-halfpenny, quite enough to overload its stomach, and make it uncomfortable. The elderly female was a woman of wisdom and experience; she knew what was good for children; and she had a very accurate perception of what was good for herself. So, she appropriated the greater part of the weekly stipend to her own use, and consigned the rising parochial generation to even a shorter allowance than was originally provided for them. Thereby finding in the lowest depth a deeper still; and proving herself a very great experimental philosopher.

Source: Oliver Twist, chapter two

Please, sir, I want some more.
Please, sir, I want some more.

Bayne Trial

January 25, 2010 permalink

The Schedule for Court Days for the Bayne Child Custody Trial is as follows: Feb 2 -5; Feb 8 - 9; Feb 11-12; Feb 22-23; Feb 25-26. You are welcome to attend, to hear the witnesses' testimonies, the cross examinations, and to be an encouragement to the Baynes by your presence at the Chilliwack Court House.

There is a new website on the case, A Plea for Justice. Enclosed below is a report by Ron Unruh on the trial and a note from a former victim on the testimony of Dr Colbourne.



Sunday, January 24, 2010

For Love and For Justice / Part 91 / Zabeth and Paul Bayne

The trial is scheduled to last sixteen days and these days are to stretch through January and February. The first three court days were held on Wednesday 12th , Thursday 13th and Friday 15th . The focus of the early days of the court case have been upon the testimonies of social workers and the regional Director for this case. That is precisely how it came down.

The Baynes’ demand for their children has been a public and high profile claim particularly during the past year. Global and CBC news networks have done stories on the Baynes’ contest with the Ministry of Children and Family Development. The Baynes themselves have maintained an online presence through websites and Facebook pages. People like me have easily recognized the injustices within this case and have sought to explain facts, some of us doing it objectively and others expressing objectionable opinions. Always the Baynes have asserted that MCFD’s legitimate task of protecting children was based on a wrong medical diagnosis and then a series of skewed MCFD decisions not in the interest of the Bayne family but in the interest of building a case for MCFD’s seizure and custody of three Bayne children. Little effort was made by MCFD to truly know Paul and Zabeth, their characters, principles and values and family commitments. The Baynes’ vigorous and persistent fight for their children over the two and one half years of this torment was perceived by MCFD as a declaration of war rather than being seen through the understanding eyes of social workers with authentic sensitivity to humanity. I am sorry to have witnessed that. I am appalled that this flaw appears to be a common feature in child protection networks across our country, in every province, in the UK and in Australia. Do some googling and you will soon be confronted by an avalanche of worrisome reports about insensitive and inept case handling and worse, incarceration of parents falsely accused.

Ministry of Children and Family Development attorney, early in the court proceedings, applied for a ban on all publicity and news coverage. During a 15 minute presentation, Bayne’s lawyer Doug Christie ardently opposed this application, arguing for the public’s right to be informed about a case as significant as this and about a Ministry that is charged by the public to fulfill its responsibilities. Christie contended that the media has a right to participate, report and defend its reported accounts. He further stated that it would be inappropriate for the Judge to make a decision on this application within fifteen minutes of hearing the application. The judge then adjourned for 30 minutes and upon his return indicated that he would not so soon approve the application for the ban because it might affect this case and others that would follow this one. If the MCFD intended to pursue the ban application, then the media must also be allowed to defend its position. MCFD attorney Finn Jensen then told the court that he would not proceed with the application. So this was dismissed. In truth this may result in better accountability through public exposure.

CBC ran a story on the opening day of this court case and that content was sympathetic to the Baynes’ claim that the children should be returned to them.

Posted by Ron at 6:28 PM

Source: Ron Unruh blog January 24, 2010

Since we don't know whether the author of this not wants to be identified, the name is concealed.

I was reading the posting about the Bayne trial and was shocked that they have Dr Colburne involved, if its the same Dr I knew 24 years ago in Vancouver. She got my first child taken from me by lying to the courts in documents for the MCFD and I believe I in fact have some of her testimony still in a file that I kept. It took me 6 months to get my child back, no thanks to her. She mislead the courts and submitted false affidavits about me and in fact some of the stuff in her reports were second and third hand information, not even direct information that she witnessed or got from me.

If it is the same Dr then the BC government needs to do the same as they did with that Dr Smith back east and review all cases that involved her and the MCFD in regards to people losing their children based on her testimony.

Long Arm of the Social Worker

January 23, 2010 permalink

Scottish social workers intervened to prevent the marriage of Mark McDougall and his pregnant partner Kerry Robertson, and alerted them that their baby was in danger of seizure at birth. They fled to Ireland where the baby was born on January 15. Irish social workers took the baby at age four days.



Mother 'not clever enough to raise child' has baby snatched by social workers after running away to Ireland to give birth

By Alison Smith Squire, Last updated at 1:13 PM on 22nd January 2010

A couple who fled to Ireland after social workers threatened to remove their baby at birth have had the newborn snatched after all.

Kerry Robertson, 17, who has mild learning difficulties, and Mark McDougall, 25, went on the run after British social services said she was not clever enough to raise a child.

But just four days after Ben was born, Irish social workers marched into the maternity ward and forced them to hand him over.

Kerry Robertson and Ben
Proud mother: Kerry Robertson and Ben, who she isn't allowed to bring up

They were told they were acting at the behest of their British counterparts.

The couple, from Fife, Scotland, have been on the run for three months.

In September, their wedding was halted just 48 hours before the service when social workers claimed Miss Robertson was not bright enough to understand the marriage declaration.

Then in November they were told that her ‘disability’ meant their baby would be taken away at birth.

With Miss Robertson 29 weeks pregnant, they fled their house in the middle of the night and travelled to Ireland.

Ben was born healthy and weighing 7lb 3oz last Friday.

Last night Miss Robertson said: ‘When the Irish social workers said I had to give the baby to them, I felt sick.

‘I didn’t want to hand him over and I started crying because I couldn’t believe what they were saying. I thought I had misunderstood.

‘I had just been breastfeeding him.

Just before they took him away, I told Ben I loved him and gave him a kiss.’

Mr McDougall added: ‘Kerry let out a dreadful cry when she realised what was happening – it was terrible. She is just in pieces.

‘We believed that the Irish had more traditional values than social workers in the UK. We found a two-bedroom cottage in a beautiful village in Waterford overlooking the sea.

Father Mark McDougall with mother Kerry Robertson and baby Ben
A family divided: Father Mark with Kerry and the baby, who is now in foster care

‘Kerry booked herself in with the local GP and at last we began to feel as if we were safe.’

An anonymous benefactor has been funding the couple after they left home with just £200, and has even paid for the house.

Artist Mr McDougall has also been selling pictures while friends and family have donated clothes, baby gear and further money.

Miss Robertson has been cared for by her grandmother since the age of nine months after her own parents were unable to look after her, with her care overseen by Fife Council.

She began getting contractions last Friday and the couple went to the local hospital, where she gave birth after a natural labour.

‘Both of us were overjoyed,’ said Mr McDougall. ‘Ben was absolutely perfect.’

But on Tuesday morning two Irish social workers – a man and a woman – came to the hospital and delivered the bombshell.

Mr McDougall added: ‘It seems that through Kerry’s medical records – although we have been on the run she has always ensured she had all the checks and scans on the baby – Fife Council had been alerted.

‘The social workers said that now Ben was born, Fife had put him on the at-risk register and he was subject to a care order.

As the social workers told us the news, the two midwives who have been caring for Kerry were so distressed that they fled the room.’

Ben is being cared for by foster parents.

Family law experts said that if Fife had genuine concerns about the baby it had a duty to pursue the couple even once they had fled its jurisdiction.

Under a 1980 European convention on child welfare, they would have contacted the Irish authorities to alert them and the Irish would then have sought an order from a judge allowing them to intervene.

Irish social workers now have to investigate for themselves and have until Monday to make a decision on the case or apply for an extension.

The couple have been allowed to see their son for two hours every other day.

Miss Robertson said: ‘Holding him made me upset all over again. I’ve told the social workers I don’t want him to have bottled milk or a dummy. I feel breastfeeding is so important and at least then he is still having some of me.’

Mr McDougall claimed the care order had the wrong baby’s name on it and the wrong date of birth. He added: ‘Kerry and I are now absolutely furious because we believe our baby has been kidnapped by social services.’

LibDem MP John Hemming, who has been supporting the couple, said: ‘There is no evidence that Mark and Kerry cannot be good parents and I just hope that the Irish authorities can resolve this as quickly as possible.’

The Irish authorities refused to comment last night.

Stephen Moore, executive director of social work at Fife Council, said: ‘I can confirm that although the Robertson family are not presently within Fife, we are committed to working closely with professional colleagues elsewhere to ensure safety and welfare of the child and indeed the whole family as this is of paramount concern to us.

‘I would urge Kerry to use all the support that is being made available to her and her baby and to get appropriate help should she need it.’

Source: Daily Mail

Addendum: The family has the baby back, but under intense supervision.



The woman told that she was too stupid to keep her baby boy

By Alison Smith Squire, Last updated at 8:10 AM on 28th January 2010

The Moses basket sits beside the bed, its new blankets carefully arranged awaiting its owner's arrival.

Piles of newborn baby clothes - mostly in shades of blue - lie neatly folded on a chair.

Like any new mother, Kerry Robertson spent weeks excitedly preparing for her first child's arrival - and yet 13 days after his birth, all the carefully arranged baby paraphernalia remains unused.

And yet today Kerry and her partner, Mark McDougall, 25, will finally be able to lay their son Ben down to sleep in the basket they bought for him with such hope.

Kerry Robertson
Loving mother: Kerry Robertson, 17, was told she would not be able to bring up her baby son Ben because she has mild learning difficulties

Kerry, who has mild learning difficulties, and Mark went on the run from their home in Fife, Scotland, last November after British social services said she was not clever enough to raise a child.

They hoped that by escaping to Ireland they would be left alone to be a family together. But when Ben was four days old, social workers caught up with them, marching into the maternity ward and forcing them to hand him over.

Only after a court hearing last Friday were the parents told they will get their child back - albeit under supervision.

Today, Kerry will move into a mother and baby unit where the 17-year-old will be under constant surveillance - but that is undoubtedly the lesser of two evils for the couple, given that they feared they might lose custody of the child they fought so hard to keep.

'To say it's been a roller coaster is an understatement,' says Mark. 'Witnessing them take Ben from Kerry made me cry. He was sleeping in her arms after his feed and looked so peaceful.

'I tried to argue with them, but they said no. It's only after they've read medical reports from the hospital, in which the midwives and medical staff said we are loving parents, that it appears they've decided we can have Ben back after all.

'Kerry will be able to care for Ben all day, every day and I'll be allowed to stay at the unit as often as I like.

'Needless to say, we can't wait to be reunited with our beloved son.'

This isn't the only battle the couple have fought to ensure Kerry leads a normal life.

She has been brought up by her grandmother since she was nine months old, with the care overseen by Fife social services.

But she says that, as an adult, there were no signs of the problems to come until social services heard she was pregnant and getting married.

Father Mark McDougall with mother Kerry Robertson and baby Ben
Devoted: Kerry and partner Mark McDougall, 25, pose proudly with their baby son. The couple fled to Ireland after social services said Ben would be taken away

Last September, in an unprecedented step, the couple's white church wedding was halted just 48 hours beforehand, in a row over whether Kerry was intelligent enough to marry.

Shortly after, Fife social services told the couple they believed that, because of Kerry's learning difficulties, her unborn baby would be taken into care.

The claim that Kerry is too stupid to get married or have a baby is something she and Mark, an artist, vehemently refute.

'Social services are ruining my life,' she says. 'First, I was stopped from getting married and then they took my baby.'

Kerry and Mark say she has never even had a formal psychological assessment. And the couple point out that before Kerry became pregnant herself, she worked as a childcare worker with children at a local school - and in fact, with considerable irony, holds a certificate in child care.

Kerry says: 'It's true I didn't get many qualifications at school, but I never had very good teaching.

'I did study for my childcare qualification, I can read and write. I send texts, go on the internet and do everything for myself.

'I usually cook for us. I chose most of the clothes for our baby and sorted out all the piles of nappies, tubs of baby creams and toys. I wanted everything to be ready for him when we brought him home.'

Indeed, upon first meeting, Kerry strikes you as no different to many other young woman. Slim and quirkily dressed, it's clear that, like anyone of her age, she loves to experiment with make-up and clothes.

Nevertheless, she is painfully shy - it is Mark's belief that it is this which gives social workers the impression her learning difficulties are worse than they are.

But gain her trust and she chats away happily like any other teenager. In fact, I don't believe anyone meeting her in a group of young people would even identify learning difficulties.

As for Mark, he has an impressive clutch of GCSEs under his belt, as well as two As in his Highers - the Scottish equivalent of A levels - in art and English.

He is an accomplished artist who makes a reasonable living selling his sketches and charcoal pictures worldwide - he showed me a picture he drew of newborn Ben, and it is a very accurate likeness.

Mark says: 'Neither Kerry nor me have ever had any conviction for cruelty or violence. I don't understand why the authorities have treated us like this.'

So what is the truth?

The Mail, it must be stressed, is not privy to all the information social services hold on this couple. Kerry admits she is no Einstein, but she seems like any other teenager.

Seeing her with Mark, hand-in-hand on the sofa at their rented house in Ireland, some would say they seem more mature than many young lovers.

Binge-drinking, casual relationships and parties couldn't be further from their minds. Both say they prefer an evening in with friends. If anything, they could be described as somewhat old-fashioned.

Mark says: 'When we discovered Kerry was pregnant we wanted to get married. It was important to us that our baby was born to married parents.'

That wedding was set to take place in a church, organised by Mark's father, who had arranged for the congregation to produce a homemade buffet for their reception.

Although Kerry was brought up in the care of her grandmother, she comes from a close-knit community with a large extended family of aunts and uncles. Her younger brother, who's nine, still lives with her grandmother.

The couple met last January through friends. 'I certainly didn't think Kerry had learning difficulties,' says Mark.

'At first she just seemed quiet, but I soon discovered a quirky sense of humour, and that's what attracted me to her.'

Kerry Robertson's son Ben
Family: Ben was born on January 15 weighing 7lb 3oz

By March, they were a couple and the following month Kerry moved into Mark's one-bedroom flat. It was shortly after this that Kerry became pregnant.

Kerry says: 'When I told my grandmother I was pregnant, she got a care worker to take me to the GP.

'It was then that the care worker said to me: "You know you won't be able to keep this baby don't you?"'

Mark adds: 'It was only at this stage I realised how seriously social services viewed Kerry's so-called condition.

'It was a very upsetting time, as the care worker suggested to Kerry it might be better if she had a termination.

'But neither of us wanted an abortion. Kerry said she could never do that.'

So the couple pressed on with the pregnancy and, as they heard nothing more from social services, put their worries to the back of their minds.

Mark says: 'When Kerry was three months pregnant, we decided to marry.

'I bought Kerry an engagement ring - a little pink one with a diamond-type stone - and we held a party.'

The pair set the date for the wedding in September. Mark recalls: 'Kerry had bought her dress, the church was booked, a cake made and the reception organised.

'But two days before, there was a frantic knocking at our front door and we were confronted by two social workers who told us our wedding was illegal.

'Kerry and I were devastated, but we had no option but to cancel our big day.'

It later transpired Fife social services had made the extraordinary step of writing a letter of objection to the registrar, claiming Kerry was too dim to understand her vows.

The couple have since attempted to marry again, but have been told that, as an order is still in place, a wedding is forbidden.

But if that weren't enough, in October, when Kerry was five months pregnant, the couple were called into a meeting with social services and told their baby would be taken into care at birth.

Kerry says: 'I couldn't stop crying. By then, I'd already found out I was having a little boy and we had decided to name him Ben. I'd felt him kick inside me.'

Mark adds: 'There was no mention of trying to help Kerry or give her the chance to be a mum.

'At that time, they said Kerry would be allowed only a few hours with him. It seemed then he would go to foster parents, and there was the fear he would be adopted and we would lose him for ever.

'It didn't seem to matter to social services that we loved one another and wanted to get married.'

The worry was so great that Mark began researching on the internet other cases in which parents had faced losing their babies in this way.

He says: 'I discovered that many couples had been forced to flee the UK and go to other countries where the authorities take a different view and are keen to keep families together.

'It seemed a huge step to take. Neither Kerry nor myself wanted to leave home, where we had family and support. But in the end we felt we had no choice.'

The couple decided to go to Ireland, where they believed their case would be looked on more sympathetically.

So in November, having held a tearful farewell gathering - and with just £200 in their pockets, a suitcase and a bag of sandwiches made by Kerry - the pair stole out of their house in the dead of night.

The couple made it to Belfast, where they stayed for eight weeks.

'Not having social workers knocking on our doors, wanting meetings all the time, was fantastic,' says Mark. 'For the first time in Kerry's pregnancy, we could enjoy it.'

The pair were financed by friends and family - although Mark continued to sell his artwork.

'I missed my grandma, my little brother and my family terribly,' says Kerry. 'It was hard to be away from them at Christmas. But I consoled myself that it would be worth it. I could hold Ben in my arms and not worry he would be taken.'

Kerry and Mark made the final leg of their journey to Waterford in the Republic of Ireland - which is not governed by UK laws - two weeks after Christmas, with the birth of the baby looming.

Kerry Robertson's son Ben
Accomplished artist: Mark drew a sketch of his son while in hospital

There, with the help of a donation from a secret benefactor, they were able to find a safe house.

Mark recalls: 'We rented a beautiful little house. Waterford is a seaside resort and we decided to make a new life there.'

On Friday, January 15 at 8.41pm, their hopes were realised when, after a natural labour, Ben was finally born.

The happy couple took photos of their 7lb 3oz bundle. And for three days all appeared to be well.

Mark visited the hospital daily, and close friends who knew where they were sent congratulations cards. Meanwhile, Kerry took to breastfeeding and caring for Ben without any problems.

Behind the scenes, however, social workers were gearing up to strike.

Through medical records, the Irish authorities had discovered that social workers in Fife had an interest in Kerry.

'It seems they contacted Fife, who told them they feared because of Kerry's "disability" our baby could suffer physical or emotional neglect,' explains Mark.

The following Monday, the couple were told a social worker would visit them the next day, and at that point they were not unduly concerned.

'We are honest, so we were happy to co-operate fully,' says Mark. 'We would have been pleased to be monitored.

'Even putting Kerry into a home for new mums with babies so she could prove she can be a good mother would have been fine.

'We understood that the Irish social workers needed to make their own inquiries, and were perfectly happy to do whatever it took to keep Ben.'

So they were totally unprepared when, at the 9.15am meeting on the Tuesday, they were forced to hand over their baby. Since then he has been looked after by foster carers.

They have been allowed two-hourly visits with Ben. But even now, as they're about to be reunited with their baby, there is no denying that the episode has been highly distressing.

Kerry says: 'I was so upset when I saw him the first time with the social workers because he had a dummy in his mouth.

'I told them I didn't want him having a dummy. And he is being bottle fed, but I wanted to breastfeed him.

'I'm just so happy that I'll be with my baby. I don't know how long I'll be at the unit. I'll miss Mark if he's not allowed to stay over - but Ben comes first.'

There's no denying that she and Mark sincerely hope today heralds the start of life as a normal, happy family.

Source: Daily Mail

Addendum: A year later the family is expanding.



'They told me I was too dumb to be a mum.. but I proved them wrong'

On Mother's Day.. the heart warming story of a girl who had to fight for the right to bring up her own child

Kerry McDougall with son Ben
Strolling along the beach, her young son in her arms, Kerry McDougall prepares for the perfect Mother's Day - one that last year she could only dream of.
(pic: John Power)

For 12 months ago tiny Ben was in care and Kerry's life was in tatters - after social workers deemed her both too stupid to look after her son AND not even bright enough to wed her fiancé Mark.

Ben was just three days old when social workers marched into the maternity ward where Kerry was breastfeeding and took him away.

It was the start of a long, heartbreaking battle to become a proper family.

Today all that is finally behind them. For, as well as having Ben back and getting married, Kerry and Mark are celebrating the news they are expecting another baby.

Cradling Ben on her lap, Kerry, 18, who has mild learning difficulties, says: "It's just the perfect gift for Mother's Day. I only found out a few days ago, but the baby is due in November. Mark and I are just so happy.

"We can't wait to find out if Ben is going to have a little brother or sister."

Mark adds: "This Mother's Day is so poignant and special to us. This time last year we had been to hell and back.

"It was very hard for us. Ben was in care and we feared we'd never get him back. I gave Kerry a card but it just made us feel more upset."

Mark, 27, who this weekend gave Kerry a ring with the word "mum" engraved on it, says: "We went through the darkest days possible.

"So we simply couldn't imagine that a year later we'd all be reunited and living next to a beach. And to actually be married and looking forward to the birth of our second child just seems amazing."

The couple's rollercoaster journey began in September 2009 when, in an unprecedented legal step, Fife Social Services dramatically halted their church wedding.

Kerry's upbringing had been overseen by the social services after her parents handed her over to her grandmother when she was just nine months old.

Because of her mild learning difficulties, just before the wedding two social workers knocked on the door of the home she shared with Mark in Dunfermline and told them Kerry did not possess the mental capacity to make the decision to get married.

Mark, an artist, says: "It was devastating as we'd already booked the church, the reception, bought the dresses, rings and flowers. Kerry didn't stop crying for days.

"Although we pleaded with the registrar to allow us to go ahead, we discovered social services had sent them a legal letter forbidding us to marry.

"Kerry does have some mild learning difficulties but mostly this is because as a child she had a cleft palate and missed a lot of school. People never realise Kerry has any problems when they meet her - I certainly didn't."

Then social services dropped another bombshell. Concerned that Kerry's learning difficulties could cause her baby "emotional harm", they told the couple he would be taken into care at birth.

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Mark says: "Ironically, as we weren't married, I had no legal rights over the child. Arguing that Kerry's learning problems did not mean she couldn't be a good mum and that I would also be there to care for the baby made no difference."

So the couple made the difficult decision to flee to Ireland before the baby was born, believing Irish social workers would be more sympathetic.

And so, shortly before Christmas 2009, with just £200, a suitcase of clothes and a bag of sandwiches, they bade tearful goodbyes to friends and family and left.

Kerry says: "I couldn't stop crying. I was also terrified because I was heavily pregnant and we didn't have anywhere to go to. But I was desperate to keep Ben and knew we had no choice."

Friends put them up and a benefactor who read about their plight paid their rent on a house in Waterford. On January 15 last year Kerry, with Mark at her side, gave birth to Ben.

Kerry says: "As soon as I held Ben, I fell in love with him." For the next three days - with only close friends and family knowing where they were - the couple revelled in being new parents.

But through her medical records, the Irish authorities discovered that social services in the UK had concerns over Kerry. They were legally bound to follow them up. On the third day, as the couple prepared to leave hospital with their new baby, two Irish social workers confronted them.

Mark says: "I felt so helpless. I begged them not to take him. But they said they had to. Kerry had just finished breastfeeding Ben and we only had time to give him a quick kiss. We both just collapsed, sobbing."

Kerry says: "I felt sick coming home without Ben. My whole body ached for him - I produced so much milk that I used to hand it over to social workers so they could bottle-feed him with it."

Over the next fortnight, the grief-stricken pair were allowed just a few two-hour visits with Ben before Kerry was reunited with her baby at a mother and baby home.

But it was only a temporary measure - after two months Kerry was forced to go back home and Ben was put into foster care.

Over the next few months the couple were both forced to undergo assessments to ensure they would be good parents.

Mark says: "It seemed so unfair to even deny Kerry the chance to be a mum and get married because she has a few learning difficulties."

Over the next few months the couple were allowed to see Ben more. Kerry says: "First of all we had visits with a social worker. Then we could take Ben out for a short time by ourselves. Gradually the visits got longer and more often.

"Finally, when he was 10 months old, we were allowed to bring him home."

Shortly before, the couple discovered the ruling banning their wedding didn't cover Ireland - so they finally got married. Mark says: "It was a great day, which went off without a hitch."

Ben is now 14 months old and a lively toddler. Kerry says: "They tore him away from me... but now I've proved them wrong. And, despite everything, he's turned out to be such a happy child."

The couple have decided to stay in Ireland, where they have made many new friends.

"We could never go back to the UK," says Mark."This is the perfect place to bring up our children. We believe fate brought us here and we just want to get on with the rest of our lives as a family."

Source: Mirror (UK)

Addendum: John Hemming interviews the parents. Posted to YouTube on April 29, 2014 (local copy, mp4).

How to Stay Solvent

January 22, 2010 permalink

The CAS in Barrie claims it is running out of money and will be closed by the end of February. I wrote in and suggested they stop spending money on high priced lawyers to keep families apart. Also to stop spending money on cars, meals and vacations. It sickens me that the paper didn't bring this up to begin with. — Melody Blackier on Facebook, January 21.

Here is a video of the police removing Melody's cousin Natalie (flv) a year and a half ago, and our article Police Remove Girl. How much more money do they need?



CAS nearly bankrupt: official

Posted By DOUGLAS GLYNN, Posted January 21, 2010

Simcoe County Children's Aid Society is facing bankruptcy next month and the fate of more than 400 children in its care is uncertain.

"As of Feb. 28, this agency can no longer pay it creditors," said Midland Mayor Jim Downer, a member of the CAS board. "That raises concerns about whether we will be able to pay the people who care for these children. If that happens, there will be nowhere for them to go."

Mary Ballantyne, the CAS's executive director, said the agency "will continue to try and work with government and our creditors to ensure this doesn't happen. It is not in anyone's interest to put Simcoe County children at risk."

The agency -- whose current annual budget is $40,949,211 -- served 10,890 children in 2008-09. As of Dec. 31, 2009, there were 442 children in its care.

Mayor Downer, who sits on the finance committee, says the province increased the agency's workload in 2009-10. "At the same time, it cut funding by 10.4 per cent, or $4.26 million. We re facing a projected $4.9 million shortfall."

In the past when there has been a deficit, he said the province has come in at the 11th hour and erased it. There's no indication of that happening this time.

The 10-year veteran board member says the province doesn't seem to recognize the agency has no control over the caseloads. We're required by the province to look after children who can't look after themselves.

"I watch spending closely. There are no consultants used. We scrutinize spending every month. I know what the staff face on a daily basis. These people work tirelessly, sometimes all hours of the night on emergency calls."

Downer says two things are contributing to the shortfall: a $16 gap in the daily funding for children in foster care and a government requirement to provide more services.

"Simcoe County CAS receives receives $73 a day for a child in care, but the actual costs are $89. We absorb that $16 difference. That amounts to about $2 million a year.

"Children's aid societies in the Greater Toronto Area receive $103 a day for a child in care," he noted, saying that he can't get an explanation of why there is a $30 difference.

"Since the ministry announced funding cutbacks, the Simcoe County CAS has reduced costs by more than $1.2 million.

"We've clawed back everywhere we can," Downer said. "We've frozen some salaries and reduced administration. We've cut to the bone."

For instance, he said the cost for average case in 2008-09 was $7,261, compared with a provincial average of $9,557.

Downer says the province has appointed a three-member commission to advise agencies how they can cut back. While he says the CAS board appreciates the commission's work, he views the move as: "smoke and mirrors."

"The funding shortfall has to be addressed immediately," he said. "Unless it is, Simcoe county's most vulnerable citizens will be at risk."

Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop said he raised the issue in the Legislature in November and was told the government had put money into child care and that there would be no more funding

"It's evident the CAS needs money right now. You won't raise $5 million holding a bake sale. These are programs the Ontario government says the CAS must do.

"This government tells people it can do wonderful things for them. They say they will bring in all-day kindergarten. They have a $25 billion deficit, but will do it anyway.

"Yet," Dunlop added, "when it comes to the most marginalized, most disadvantaged children in the province the same government says there's not enough money to look after them. There's just one contradiction after another. This guy (Premier Dalton McGuinty) has gotta go. His government is out of touch with the public."

Dunlop said he will raise the issue again when the legislature resumes Feb 16, but he is not optimistic the government will act.

Source: Barrie Examiner

Pills for Payukotayno

January 22, 2010 permalink

Laurel Broten has responded to the suicide epidemic in Ontario's north. Instead of dealing with the community problems, she is dispatching four mental health workers to Payukotayno James and Hudson Bay Family Services. What is the chance that prescription pill popping will lower the suicide rate?



CTV Toronto

Northern CAS to get help with suicide 'epidemic'

Updated: Wed Jan. 20 2010 1:41:14 PM, The Associated Press

TORONTO — A struggling Children's Aid Society in northern Ontario will get four new mental health workers to help it deal with what's being called a suicide "epidemic" in the James Bay area.

The province's Ministry of Children and Youth Services has granted a request from Payukotayno James and Hudson Bay Family Services director Ernest Beck for the additional workers, at a price of approximately $400,000.

The four will work with the community and the Children's Aid Society office to try to come up with a way to deal with the growing problem of youth suicide.

Critics have been urging immediate action, saying children who are at risk of being left in abusive homes or contemplating suicide will have no one to turn to.

In December, Payukotayno and the Tikinagan office in Sioux Lookout got a $4.4-million lifeline after the James Bay office warned it would have to close down without more operating funds, despite a growing number of suicides.

Those funds will keep Payukotayno in operation until the end of March while the government works on a longer-term strategy.

NDP critic Gilles Bisson has been calling for a long-term plan to deal with underfunding at other Children's Aid Society offices in the north before similar crises erupt elsewhere.

Children's Aid Societies in several other areas face funding shortfalls, and are contemplating cuts to core services including abuse prevention programs and court-ordered visits to children in foster and residential care in the face of a $67-million shortfall.

Offices such as Centre Jeanne Sauve, which serves the francophone community in Kapuskasing, are also struggling, and threatening to lay off staff by February.

Source: CTV


Letter Writing Campaign

January 19, 2010 permalink

Dufferin Children's Aid (DCAFS) is urging people to write letters to premier Dalton McGuinty asking for more funding. Opponents can take the opportunity to write letters suggesting no additional funding, or even more cuts. An Orangeville Banner article and one response letter are in the expand block. This is a chance to show the premier what the real public sentiment is.

For those who decide to participate, DCAFS has a suggested letter (MS-Word) and a website for submitting your letter to the premier. For even more impact, forward a copy of your letter to [ rtmq at ] for inclusion on this website.



DCAFS launches ‘pre-emptive’ funding strike

Provincial funding cuts would be “devastating” to children’s mental health programs, warns Dufferin Child and Family Services (DCAFS).

That’s why the agency has set out on a letter-writing campaign aimed to preventing a drop in dollars allocated for the next fiscal year. The campaign runs Jan. 18 to 22.

“It’s pretty important that we at least maintain current services,” said Gloria Campbell, the DCAFS’ program manager for children’s mental health. “We see some kids and families who really are struggling with pretty significant issues.”

For the past two years, DCAFS children’s mental health services have been operating with provincial funding of about $1.28 million. During the past 16 years, the agency said it has received three base-budget increases and no additional funding.

A spokesperson for Laurel Broten, minister of children and youth services, couldn’t be reached for comment, but previously said the province will work with agencies to “manage within the funds they have” and “mitigate” any potential problems.

DCAFS’ children mental health programs include supervised visits and exchanges with non-custodial parents, crisis response and individual counselling — to name a few.

“We’re seeing kids here who are the victim of sexual assault, assault, neglect, we work with kids who have diagnoses of attention problems ... autism, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder,” Campbell said, noting there are 22 people currently on the waiting list for programs. “Some individuals will wait several months for services. That’s not OK.”

The agency hasn’t heard anything from the province about what to expect in the next budget. But officials are aware of the $25 billion provincial deficit and want to get their message out ahead of any potential cuts to children’s mental health. That’s why they’re asking people to send letters to Premier Dalton McGuinty, Broten and Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones, a member of the official opposition.

“We’re standing up and saying ‘Hey, we’re underfunded for children’s mental health services and please ... at the very least, don’t reduce what you’re giving us’,” Campbell said.

“The letter-writing campaign has gone mostly to people of influence,” she explained, noting several individuals have already written letters of support. “We’re really pleased that our colleagues, business people and individuals in the community are saying ‘Our kids in Dufferin really count’.”

Anyone interested in writing a letter to support DCAFS’ position can find a template letter online at

“We’re hopeful that it will have some impact,” Campbell added. “Our children and our youth are really important and we can’t let them down.”

Source: Orangeville Banner

January 19, 2010

Dalton McGuinty
Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Main Legislative Building, Queens’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1

Subject: Funding for children's aid

submitted by web form at

Honorable Premier:

I am urging you to maintain the recent cuts in funding for children's aid societies, or even better, to make further cuts. The suggestion to write to you came from Dufferin Child and Family Services, currently organizing a letter writing campaign for the opposite purpose.

Our family was driven from Dufferin County after a children's aid worker backed up to two armed policemen seized our three-year-old son from our home. While we got our son back, dozens of other families in Dufferin were not so fortunate. In the course of conducting a membership drive to get policy or management changes for children's aid, I spoke to hundreds of affected families. It is rare for a children's aid intervention to improve the condition of a child. The best solution would be to reduce the funding of these monsters to zero, or, if you are unwilling to contemplate such a drastic change, then lowering their funding as far as is possible.

I leave intact the last paragraph of the letter as suggested by Dufferin Children's Aid, below:

We need you, Premier McGuinty, to address this funding situation in fair and adequate ways. We cannot fail our young people.


Robert T McQuaid
558 McMartin Road
Mattawa Ontario P0H 1V0

phone: 705-744-6274

cc: ( Laurel Broten, Minister, Children and Youth Services ) ( Sylvia Jones, MPP, Dufferin-Caledon )

Addendum: As part of her fund-raising effort, Dufferin Children's Aid executive director Trish Keachie addressed a letter (pdf, local copy) to persons she described with: "You are an influential community member". Dufferin VOCA did not receive a signed copy.

No Gifts for Florida Foster Kids

January 19, 2010 permalink

Kristie Feliz Smith, a worker with an agency overseeing children in Florida custody, has been arrested for stealing gift cards intended for Christmas gifts for foster children.



Ex-social worker spent gift cards meant for kids, cops say

By JOSH POLTILOVE | The Tampa Tribune, Published: January 19, 2010, Updated: 04:06 pm

Kristie Smith
Kristie Smith

An employee for an agency that oversees thousands of children in state custody was supposed to mail Walmart gift cards to foster families.

Instead, she used several of the gift cards for her own purchases, Tampa police say.

Officers arrested Kristie Feliz Smith, 23, Thursday morning and charged the Hillsborough Kids Inc. employee with third-degree grand theft.

Smith was supposed to mail gift cards so foster families could buy items for children, police say, but 13 gift cards earmarked for foster families were not received.

In October, Smith was captured on a New Tampa Walmart's surveillance cameras making a purchase with six of her employer's gift cards, buying $288.13 in personal items, Tampa police say. Another gift card was used at a Walmart at Florida Avenue and Busch Boulevard, and another was used at a Walmart at Dale Mabry Highway and Bearss Avenue.

Five gift cards were deactivated before purchases were made.

Smith told officers she had used the gift cards at the New Tampa Walmart but that she thought they were cards her mother had sent her, an arrest report states. She also said she had been responsible for mailing the foster parents the envelopes that didn't contain gift cards.

Police say Smith had reimbursed Hillsborough Kids Inc. for $400, the value of eight gift cards, but she denied having shopped at two of the three Walmarts.

Smith, who became a full-time employee of Hillsborough Kids in August, served as an administrative assistant, said Ed Savitz, the agency's general counsel. She is no longer employed by the agency.

Smith has been released from jail on $2,000 bail.

Reporter Josh Poltilove can be reached at (813) 259-7691.

Source: The Tampa Tribune

OACAS Overwhelmed by Critics

January 18, 2010 permalink

OACAS has created an open Facebook fan page in connection with the I Am You Children's Aid campaign, for supportive messages. Instead, it has been overwhelmed by angry parents and foster children.

Addendum: From another open Facebook site:

Chris York The CAS fan site is now deleting people and blocking them from posting as well as deleting posts of people who do not agree with their ways. I was one of those people. All of the info I posted was true but they don't want the truth to come out. Well WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED.

That Makes Me Angry

Volunteer Supervisors Wanted

January 17, 2010 permalink

Hey teenagers! Do you want practice bossing adults around? Once you are 18, you can volunteer to help Durham Children's Services. You get to tell parents that they are not allowed to question their children about new bruises. You will also have to stop parents who try to say they love their children. Sorry, Children's Services is too cheap to pay for this work.



Volunteers needed to supervise parent and child visits in Oshawa

Jan 08, 2010 - 10:13 AM

DURHAM -- Volunteers are needed to supervise visits between children affected by separation or divorce, and their non-custodial parents, as part of the Durham Supervised Access Program.

The program aims to help children and parents build and maintain relationships in a safe, neutral, group setting.

Volunteers must be 18 or older, enjoy working with children and be empathetic to the needs of separated or divorced families.

Visits are two hours in length and take place in Oshawa on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Ongoing training is available to all volunteers, and the amount of time volunteered can be tailored to each person's schedule.

For more information, call 905-619-4565 ext. 318.

Source: News Durham Region
Thanks to a reader who found this item.

Call to Former Alberta Wards

January 17, 2010 permalink

In a lawsuit on behalf of former foster children, Alberta is resisting disclosure of names to the plaintiffs, claiming to protect former wards by hiding them. If you are a former ward of Alberta, you can help by making contact with John Dunn, details in the expand block.



Friday, January 08, 2010

Alberta Government Hiding Behind Child Welfare Confidentiality in Legal Matter

In Short. Lawyer in Alberta initiates class action lawsuit against Alberta Government on behalf of foster children who suffered damages while in foster care. Government tries to say kids in care want their privacy respected and won't give names and addresses to lawyer to join the suit because they will not want to reveal their personal information to a lawyer and the lawyer needs all the support he can get in the form of former and current foster kids swearing affidavits that say otherwise.

We want to hear from you, if you are a current or former ward or foster child, and if you would help our fellow foster brothers and sisters in that province by simply swearing an affidavit stating that you as a current or former foster child would have no problem giving your identifying information and address to the class action lawyer and to the court so that you could possibly win financial or other awards if your case were won.

Don't let this particular government hide behind legislation that was put in place to protect kids in care, not to provide a wall for officials to hide behind.

Spread the word about this post to everyone you know. We need as many affidavits signed as possible.

IF you want to contact

John Dunn

Posted by afterfostercare at 5:11 PM

Source: Foster Care News (John Dunn)

Businessman sues BA 'for treating men like perverts'

January 16, 2010 permalink

British Airways asked Mirko Fischer to change his seat so he would not be sitting next to an unaccompanied child. He sued the airline. If their policies were based on research instead of stereotypes, they might refuse to seat children next to unrelated women.



Businessman sues BA 'for treating men like perverts'

By Sophie Borland, Last updated at 4:32 PM on 16th January 2010

Mirko Fischer
Mirko Fischer claims BA brand all men as potential sex offenders

A businessman is suing British Airways over a policy that bans male passengers from sitting next to children they don't know - even if the child's parents are on the same flight.

Mirko Fischer has accused the airline of branding all men as potential sex offenders and says innocent travellers are being publicly humiliated.

In line with the policy, BA cabin crew patrol the aisles before take-off checking that youngsters travelling on their own or in a different row from their parents are not next to a male stranger.

If they find a man next to a child or teenager they will ask him to move to a different seat. The aircraft will not take off unless the passenger obeys.

Mr Fischer, a 33-year-old hedge fund manager, became aware of the policy while he was flying from Gatwick with his wife Stephanie, 30.

His wife, who was six months pregnant, had booked a window seat which she thought would be more spacious. Mr Fischer was in the middle seat between her and a 12-year-old boy.

Shortly after all passengers had sat down, having stowed their bags in the overhead lockers, a male steward asked Mr Fischer to change his seat.

Mr Fischer refused, explaining that his wife was pregnant, at which point the steward raised his voice, causing several passengers to turn round in alarm. He warned that the aircraft could not take off unless Mr Fischer obeyed.

Mr Fischer eventually moved seats but felt so humiliated by his treatment that he is taking the airline to court on the grounds of sex discrimination-He is paying all his own legal

If he wins at the hearing next month at Slough County Court, BA will have to change its policy.

He has promised to donate any compensation to the NSPCC.

Mr Fischer, who lives in Luxembourg with his wife and their daughter Sophia, said: 'This policy is branding all men as perverts for no reason. The policy and the treatment of male passengers is absolutely outrageous.

'A plane is a public place - cabin crew regularly walk down the aisles and passengers are sat so close to each other. The risk of any abuse is virtually zero.

'Furthermore statistically children are far more likely to be abused by a member of their family. Does that mean that BA are going to ban children sitting next to their own parents?'

'I was made to feel like a criminal in front of other passengers. It was totally humiliating. Neither myself or my wife dared to speak to the boy in case the cabin crew forced us from our seats. The poor child must have thought we were extremely rude and unfriendly.'

Claude Knights, of the children's charity Kidscape said: 'The airline should have procedures in place to avoid this sort of situation.

'If the airline is that concerned they should sit unaccompanied children with cabin crew who have no doubt been thoroughly vetted.'

A BA spokesman said: 'As this is case is subject to court proceedings, it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time.'

Source: Daily Mail

The consequence may be to ban all children from airliners.

Kids, we don't want you in business class: push to ban children from flights

Campaigners in the UK want to ban children on business class flights
Flickruser Woodleywonderworks

AIRLINES are being urged to segregate children or ban them from certain flights altogether to keep business class passengers happy.

In a recent survey, 75 per cent of business class travellers said they were annoyed by the presence of children on planes, the The Daily Mail reports.

The survey, run in conjunction with the Business Travel and Meetings trade show, urges major airlines such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Emirites, to consider child-free flights.

Of the 1000 participants, three quarters of business class passengers found children on planes "irritating".

Campaigners have also suggested airlines use "flight zones" - where children and adults are segregated.

This idea draws inspiration from the "quiet cabins" which currently operate on railway services throughout the UK.

The Business Travel and Meetings trade show's director David Chapple said those paying more for their flight have a right to complain.

"It's understandably frustrating for business travellers, who have paid a premium in expectation that they can work and sleep in comfort, to have that peace disturbed by children," he told the Daily Mail.

But many people have opposed the campaign, and are worried where the ban might lead.

"It would be a bad decision by an airline to ban children," ex-Virgin Atlantic director, Paul Charles, said.

"Once you did, would you start banning other types of travellers? It would be a mistake," he said

The airlines are yet to respond to to the campaign efforts.


Man jailed on truancy charges

January 16, 2010 permalink

In Pennsylvania Keaton Fehrle is jailed and fined $17,500 for truancy committed five years ago when he was in high school. In government accounting providing an education costs $0, not providing and education costs $17,500.



Keaton Fehrle

Posted on Sat, Jan. 16, 2010

Delco man jailed on truancy charges; owes $17,500

By WILLIAM BENDER, Philadelphia Daily News 215-854-5255

Listen up, kids. Today's lesson is: Don't skip school.

You could end up paying for it as an adult. And you might even be thrown in jail. Not a juvenile detention center, but a grown-up prison.

Keaton Fehrle, 20, could tell you all about it – whenever he gets out of the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, where he has been held since Tuesday on truancy charges he accumulated as a teenager in Delaware County.

Sure, Fehrle's old attendance record at Interboro High School makes Ferris Bueller look like a model student. But should the Essington resident be sitting in a jail cell for ditching class when he was in the 10th grade?

"It's kind of like getting detention – four years later," said his attorney, Michael Malloy. "Should he go back and scrub the blackboards again?"

Fehrle apparently racked up $17,500 worth of fines and court costs after repeatedly missing school in 2005 and 2006. He was busted for the truancy violations this week when his girlfriend was pulled over for speeding. Fehrle was a passenger in the car, and the police officer discovered that there was a warrant out for his arrest.

But Fehrle's mother, Colleen, said yesterday that he was marked "absent" so many days because he had simply dropped out of school and was living in another school district with his cancer-stricken father.

"It should have been me or my husband. Why are they locking him up? He was a child when this happened," Colleen Fehrle said. "Are they just doing it to make an example of him?"

Keaton Fehrle's truancy file in the office of Magisterial District Judge Jack Lippart is as thick as a phonebook. It shows that the judge, before levying the fines, had apparently warned Fehrle to stop skipping school.

But additional charges were recorded when Fehrle left the district, according to his mother, who is distraught that the snafu landed her son in prison.

"It's so confusing. I've never heard of anything like this in my life," she said, adding that when she spoke to him by phone, he said, 'Please get me out of here. This is a living hell.' "

Malloy said he's trying to get an early hearing date set for Fehrle to spring him from jail.

"I've never seen a case like this. I'm at a loss to explain how this happens," he said. "I don't know how they can hold him, quite frankly."

It was unclear yesterday how long Fehrle, who is unemployed, is expected to remain in prison. Colleen Fehrle said the hearing after his arrest Tuesday had concluded before she arrived at the courthouse.

The peculiarity of the case aside, Malloy intends to argue for Fehrle's immediate release. He said his client simply doesn't have the money.

"The rules are relatively clear," he said. "You can't put someone in jail for failure to pay if they don't have the ability to pay."

"Who has $17,000?" Colleen Fehrle asked.

School officials could not be reached yesterday, but prison Superintendent John Reilly Jr. confirmed that Fehrle was being held on a warrant for high school truancy, which is a summary offense.

"That's a bad break," Reilly said.

Source: Philadelphia Daily News

Bayne Trial Opens

January 16, 2010 permalink

The Bayne trial has opened in British Columbia. The opening testimony showed that the intitial complaint came from a former family friend forced into the position of competitor when the Baynes opened a music business. The press is not using the name "Bayne".



Surrey couple challenge shaken baby allegation

Last Updated: Thursday, January 14, 2010 | 2:51 PM PT, CBC News

A Surrey B.C. couple accused of shaking their baby girl are taking their case to court to try to prove she has a medical disorder, in an attempt regain custody of their three children.

The couple's three children were taken away by the B.C. Ministry of Children and Families 2½ years ago after the allegation of abuse first arose.

The two boys, aged four and three, and the girl, who was just a baby at the time, have since been placed in foster care.

Outside a courthouse on Wednesday the couple, who have never been charged in the case, said their girl was never abused.

"We've asked for a second medical review and the ministry stated that they weren't interested in seeking that," said the mother, who can't be named because of a court-ordered publication ban that restricts any information that might identify the children involved.

"From the start, we have been in an uphill battle to prove our innocence, because we did not shake our baby. We did not harm any of our children," she said.

They claim the girl suffers from a rare medical condition and they have expert opinions to back them up, which they intend to present in court.

"We do know that we have 10 medical experts that have submitted reports that state that it's not shaken baby," said the mother.

Ministry documents back claims

The couple said they obtained internal documents last spring from the ministry which they say indicate their daughter likely suffers glutaric aciduria, a rare disease often mistaken for child abuse, because it can result in swelling of the brain and bleeding.

They said one of their sons tripped over the girl, which combined with the rare disease, led to a misdiagnosis of abuse.

But on Wednesday the court heard from two witnesses who originally informed the court about their suspicions that the couple's children were being abused.

Pastor Michael Hoffman and his wife Elizabeth were in charge of a church in Hope and were friends with the couple at the time.

Michael Hoffman advised police that based on psychology classes that he took at seminary that he believed the mother was suffering from post-partum depression and that she had Munchausen's syndrome by proxy, an uncommon condition in which a person harms another in order to gain attention.

The pastor's wife testified that the two boys seemed small for their age and that the little girl started looking increasingly listless.

But it also came out in court that both couples had started running rival businesses offering music lessons and their friendship deteriorated around the time the baby girl was born.

The parents who work as night janitors have hired high-profile defence lawyer Doug Christie to represent them in court.

Outside court on Wednesday, Christie said many parents often lack the resources to fight allegations of abuse.

"[It is] very difficult emotionally for parents who are innocent — and there are some — and that's what this case is about. All the power it seems to me is on the side of state in these cases," said Christie.

"Many experts and many doctors make their entire living working for government authorities and the case of Dr. Charles Smith in Ontario has demonstrated how dangerous that can be," he said, referring to the case of a doctor who was found to have falsely testified in a large number of court cases.

"People were put in jail for accusations of shaken baby syndrome and those people have served time for crimes they did not commit. That's why this becomes a very serious matter when you make allegations of this kind and base it entirely on opinion evidence," said Christie.

Support found online

The couple said they have received a lot of support from an online campaign they have been running, using Facebook, Twitter and blogs, and from a recent fundraiser.

"We're just glad that after two-plus years we're finally able to come before the court and present our medical evidence that we do have … and we are praying that at the end of the day the truth will come out and our children will be restored to our home," said the mother.

Since their children were taken away, the couple said they have only had limited visitation rights.

"Six hours a week is absolutely nothing … the visitations are actually quite hostile. We have been in every visitation supervised," said the mother.

"They have actually lost weight. They are actually about five pounds lighter than when this thing first started all this," said the father, referring to the boys.

" We are devastated by all the time we miss with her," said the mother, referring to her daughter.

The court hearing is expected to take three weeks.

Source: CBC

Addendum: The crown application for a publication ban failed. Zabeth reports on the cross-examination of crown witnesses.



To All Our Supporters,

I want to apologize that I have not written everyone much as court has placed heavy demands on me in assisting Doug Christie our lawyer with the evidence he needs as he cross examines the Ministry witnesses. I thought you might be interested in the developments today as the Ministry tried to place an application on a publicity ban I think you call it due to the CBC story on the 13th.

Doug Christie opposed and was quite passionate about the subject. He presented on the spur of the moment a good 15 plus minute speech on the rights of the public to be informed. He could provide a more in depth outline of his presentation. One of his arguments was that the media had the right to participate and defend their position on reporting and for the Judge to decide after 15 minutes of receiving an oral application with no hearing was doing the justice system no good.

The Judge adjourned for about 30 minutes to decide and when he returned he stated that he was not going to approve the application this quickly as he felt that the decision to ban media from reporting on this case would not only effect this case but others that could come after this one. If the Ministry decided they still wished to proceed with the application then the media would need to have notice to defend their position in this.

Finn Jensen MCFD counsel stood and told the court that they would not proceed with the application to ban publicity from media on this case. Dismissed.

There is no ban and Doug Christie defended the rights of the media to report and the people to be informed.

This is interesting as the MCFD lawyer quoted from the Act where it was an offense for participants (he thought we were quoting the Hoffmans, but your reporter sat in) to inform the media of proceedings from child protection hearings. For there to be no ban in this case may open more doorways for better accountability through public exposure of the family court system.

An update from the MCFD cross examination:

On Thursday, Doug Christie cross examined team leader Berhe Gulbot. Under cross examination Berhe Gulbot agreed that he had a duty through his office to only present accurate and reliable information to the court. He agreed that he had a duty to inform the court of any information that he finds is false. Then under cross examination he was exposed to have submitted false information to the court records, which was relied upon to make the decision to remove all three children. He agreed that he knew the correct information prior to completing the court forms. Doug Christie suggested to him that he included false information in order to ensure he received the Interim Order he was seeking.

Other information includes, the MCFD is in confusion over how many experts reports they have. Previous communications prove ten reports were sent to the MCFD. Confirmation of nine reports has come in from MCFD counsel to be followed by counsel stating they have only six reports and then followed in court today by counsel stating they have only four reports and that their Dr. Colbourne has only seen four reports, yet in a previous email they state she has seen six. Doug Christie has requested they procure all ten reports and submit them to the court.

The MCFD has now retained Dr. Randell Alexander for a second medical opinion. He was key organizer of the event in Vancouver with the National Center For Shaken Baby Syndrome in Oct 08. He was presented as being an independent review but yet research reveals that he and Dr. Colbourne have long participated in these events and in this organization for many years. They also have participated in many "mock trials" in which a Judge participates and they learn how to prove the parent or guardian as guilty. You see they do not believe that there are any other differential diagnosis even in light of the Goudge Inquiry which had an opportunity to review the changing science in a medical legal setting.

Berhe Gulbot states that they have attended his events and that he believes in these positions regardless of how much he has read about the Goudge Inquiry. He believes in anything Dr. Colbourne tells him and finds any other expert without credibility. He went so far as to call the parents liars on the stand and tried to apologize - too late - his heart and mindset was revealed under oath. Since the onset of this case it has been the intention of the Ministry to solely seek a confession and in taking this position they have ignored the explanation of accidental injury and the subsequent ten experts who upon review support this explanation. In court it was also discovered that in taking this position they did not follow up with the many others who know us and had written their support and confidence in our family, skills as parents and members of the community and church.

Berhe Gulbot has been led through testimony from his counsel on Thursday morning and then cross examined by Doug Christie for the next day and a half. Doug Christie's reputation for "body slamming" his questions at the witness were not understatements.

Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to prepare for the next court sessions. Further to that our needs have expanded as we have been told by our lawyer to either quit work or take a leave for one month or we will not be able to assist him properly and will be too tired. He has told us that he wants us to stay in the Hotel near the courthouse he will be in during the trial dates and the room will have a extra meeting room in it for us to prepare each morning and evening with him. I will have to talk to our employer about this so please pray that following the trial we can continue in our work or that God provides something else.

Those of you that have been supporting us - thank you - and if there is any way that your support can continue to assist us through this time as with the lack of employment we will need to continue to keep our home as well as cover living expenses. On top of this we have an excellent lawyer who has proved these past three days that he is definitely up to the task. God has answered our prayers and sent us Doug Christie. Please help us support him.

Thank you,

Zabeth Bayne

Source: email from Zabeth Bayne

I Am Your Children's Aid

January 16, 2010 permalink

The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies is pulling out all stops to change its image. They will be returning all children removed by force from Ontario mothers and fathers. Oops, better start over.

The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies is pulling out all stops to change its image. They are running an advertising campaign titled: "I Am Your Children's Aid". The campaign has been under development for two years, and features thirteen people telling their stories, nine of them recipients of money or children from children's aid. It took two years to find three graduates and one mother willing to say good things about children's aid.



CAS campaign aims to change people's perspective


The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies is pulling out all stops to change its image.

Hastings CAS executive director Len Kennedy said the OACAS has launched a provincial campaign dubbed "I Am Your Children's Aid," aimed at shifting the perception and securing more public support for Ontario's Children's Aid Societies.

"It's been two years in the development and finally it's starting to be rolled out," Kennedy said during Wednesday's CAS board meeting. "It's a provincial strategy we supported from the outset, has been needed to help communities understand the important work children's aid societies do."

He said the advertising blitz hitting airwaves across the province this month will enable more public transparency and ease the increased media scrutiny of the agency, blasted for been unable to tackle its $67 million shortfall.

The campaign was launched after a two-year market research study started in 2007 discovered the work of Ontario's child welfare agencies is recognized by most Ontarians, but the message from CASs is not resonating, Kennedy explained.

He said the study also revealed the work done by CASs is not well understood by most Ontarians and the work done by child welfare professionals remains obscure.

The survey of 800 Ontarians showed that 87 per cent of Ontarians know that CAS places children in foster homes but just 54 per cent know that agencies also place children in adoptive families.

The ads are currently being run on television networks such as Global and print outlets such as the Globe and Mail. Kennedy said the same ads can be heard and seen locally in The Intelligencer, on CKWS Television, and a string of radio stations.

The stories used in the ads will be told through the experiences of children, youth in care, foster parents and workers in 30 second sound bites, Kennedy said.

While the local CAS is not in a dire financial situation, Kennedy said other agencies across the sector are battling an uncertain future.

He said the ads are aimed at getting people more involved with agencies across the province. He said there has been an evolution of thinking through all the member agencies that the CAS has to take some responsibility for its brand and profile.

"Market research told us that people don't understand enough about what we do or have a full impression of the kind of things that we are involved in," he said. "We needed to invest more effort and some resources in getting the word out there."

Kennedy said ideally there should be a local component morphed into the current advertising blitz to put emphasis on stories in our region. He conceded there is currently no production money to bring these local stories to life.

"We might see if there is a way to find some local stories to supplement the provincial advertisements," he said. "Maybe there is some modest projects we can do to get a couple of short video or audio clips developed."

Source: Belleville Intelligencer

Anonymous Inquest

January 16, 2010 permalink

An Ontario ministry has announced an inquest into the death of an unnamed child who died on December 15, 2005. That is the day Matthew Reid died. Previous stores on Reid are:
in 2005: Dec 18, Dec 19, Dec 26.
in 2007: Jan 23, Jan 25, Jun 28, Aug 29, Oct 23.

Of the 90 (or only 54) children who die in CAS care annually, this is the only one in five years to come to an inquest. Ordinarily, children's aid suppresses unfavorable stories with threats of litigation. Through circumstances unknown, it looks like the Welland Tribune managed to get this story into print before CAS could intervene.

Experience with other inquests before 2005 allows a forecast of the results. The jury will return a set of recommendations written by social services, all proposing more money and power for children's aid.



Inquest into the death of a child announced

TORONTO, Jan. 14 /CNW/ - Dr. Bonita Porter, Deputy Chief Coroner for Inquests, today announced that an inquest will be held into the death of a child.

The three-year-old child died on December 15, 2005, at the Welland General Hospital while in foster care.

The inquest will examine the events surrounding the child's death and the jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths.

The inquest is expected to last three weeks and will hear from approximately 30 witnesses.

The inquest will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, February 1, 2010, at the Quality Hotel Parkway Conference Centre, Concord Ballroom, 327 Ontario Street, St. Catharines. Dr. James Edwards will preside as inquest coroner and Mr. Eric Siebenmorgen will be counsel to the coroner.

For further information: Dr. Bonita Porter, Deputy Chief Coroner for Inquests, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, (416) 314-4000

Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

Source: Canada News Wire

Wonderful Children's Aid

January 12, 2010 permalink

While children's aid societies are complaining of the need to eliminate "services" on account of funding cuts, their trade association and lobby group, the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies (OACAS), has taken funds from childcare to finance an ad campaign promoting children's aid. Three of the radio ads are available here: Candy, Reena and Marian. There are also eleven print ads: Chantell, George , Reena , Orlena , Candy , Nandita , Jennifer, Linda , Connie , Nick and Jessica . All of the ads direct you to the website Use your voice for more information. The website has six video ads on YouTube, but each produces only the message: "This video has been removed by the user". John Shipman reports ironically that he has seen the tv ads only on the Comedy Network. The propaganda extends to the About Us page, where we read: "Each year, Children’s Aid in Ontario responds to more than 155,000 calls from concerned members of the community about the possible abuse and neglect of children and youth". According to Statistics Canada, Ontario had only 140,255 births in the most recent year. All children are under watch.

A reality check shows that these ads are silly fantasies. Since no full names are given, it is impossible to independently check the facts. They make no mention of the 90 (or is it only 54?) children who die annually in CAS care, or numerous other failings such as in our satirical list of duties for a CAS executive director. Are you someone who can afford to run counter-advertisements, telling the real story? Sorry, no Ontario publication will run such an ad, out of fear of litigation by children's aid. The very first posting to this news blog is of a newspaper turning down such an ad. More recently, the Toronto Sun refused to run a small classified ad in the personals section asking for reports from persons who have had a family member die in children's aid care.

Addendum: Here are the tv ads:

link and local copy (mp4)

All of the ads end by asking you to get involved with your children's aid. John Dunn has been rebuffed for years in his efforts to get involved, and he is now on his second prosecution of children's aid for a provincial offence. He suggests that all Ontarians respond to the ads by applying for membership in their local children's aid society.

Altered Transcripts Wanted

January 11, 2010 permalink

Sean Slaven wants to hear about cases of altered court transcripts. You can respond to the email at the end of the enclosed letter.



I have been approached by a reporter of one of our nationals regarding wrong doings within the court system.

He is looking for cases where transcripts have been altered etc etc.

This is not just related to family court but I know there have been a lot of wrong doings within the family court.

I will be presenting my findings to a university class that is studying investigative journalism as this is a subject they have decided to study.

I think there is a good opportunity here to bring some of our issues to the youth of our country as they will be the ones that will bring about the much needed changes to our judicial system.

Anyone with input please contact me on or off list.

Thanks for your support

SS email: [ seanslaven at ]

Source: yahoogroups

Who Needs Fire Alarms?

January 11, 2010 permalink

In a CAS proclaimed "place of safety" there were two fires within hours, and the fire alarms failed, requiring door-to-door notification of residents. The home operator Pathways has a self-promotional website.



Up in SMOKE! CAS group home (Pathways in Markham) destroyed after kids report that fire alarms not working in the CAS facility

(January 7, 2009) Residents of a CAS approved group home in Markam called Pathways have contacted Court Watch to advise that the group home at 65 Oakley Rd. in Markham was destroyed after two separate fires only hours apart forced kids to flee the facility. Some were only in their underwear when they escaped the burning building. What is most shocking is that the fire alarms at the CAS group home were not working and the only way in which sleeping kids were alerted to the presence of the out of control fire was by knocks on their doors by other residents. While CAS agencies claim to be placing children in safe places, questions must be asked as to why the fire alarms were not working. How many other foster homes and group homes in the Province of Ontario have faulty fire detection equipment?

Source: Canada Court Watch

No Good Dad Goes Unpunished

January 9, 2010 permalink

When a group of people tried to take a baby from father Chad Thomas he responded in the manner of a protective guardian — he defended her with his life. Unfortunately, the group of child snatchers included children's aid workers, making his heroic stance criminal. Children's aid is keeping his daughter.



Peterborough Examiner

Posted January 9 2010


Grasping his baby daughter in his hands, 20-year-old Chad Thomas threatened Children's Aid Society workers and told police they would have to shoot him if they wanted to take away his child.

Thomas pleaded guilty yesterday in Ontario Court of Justice to two counts of threatening death.

Mr. Justice Robert Graydon gave him a suspended sentence and 18 months of probation.

Two CAS workers went to Thomas's Crawford Dr. home May 19 to take away his daughter, court heard.

Thomas reacted aggressively and threatened to kill both workers. When police arrived he told them they would have to put a bullet in his head to remove the baby from the home, court heard.

The child remains in CAS custody, court heard.

Thomas told court he wanted to get his life back on track and provide for his family.

Source: Peterborough Examiner

Immaculate Rejection

January 9, 2010 permalink

When unemployed, disabled mother Laura Traversy asked for help getting Christmas toys and clothing for her two children, St Thomas-Elgin children's aid turned her down because her home was too nice. Adding to the irony, Laura is a former crown ward, so the rejection came from her own (legal) parent.

She could have left a pile of clothes in the laundry room, a spoiled food item in the fridge and fresh poo in the catbox, but then she would be fighting for her kids now. There is no right home for children's aid.



Home too nice, agency claims

ST. THOMAS: Laid-off mother of two astounded by refusal to provide Christmas help


Last Updated: 8th January 2010, 9:45am

Laura Traversy
Laura Traversy, 34, of St. Thomas is upset after agents with Family and Children's Services of St. Thomas-Elgin refused to provide Christmas help for the laid-off mother and her family. (KYLE REA, QMI Agency)

ST. THOMAS -- The day before Christmas, Laura Traversy was sure she was getting some help from Family and Children's Services of St. Thomas-Elgin to give her children a merry Christmas.

The 34-year-old laid off mother of two was referred to the local agency by Christmas Care for some assistance with toys and clothing for her children, ages 13 and 15. Instead of gifts, the 34-year-old St. Thomas woman said inspectors arrived and turned down her request, saying her home was "too nice" and she was "too well-off" to receive aid.

Traversy worked for eight years as a temporary worker for Presstran and Formet and was set to be hired on full time earlier this year, before layoffs hit. Now unemployed and on disability, she wanted to provide her children with a good holiday season and turned to Christmas Care for a bit of help.

She was referred to Family and Children's Services (FACS) and told they adopt families for Christmas.

Traversy was initially told no help was available, but then received a call from a woman she identified as "Jennifer" who asked what her children wanted and their clothing sizes, among other questions.

"She said she would get back to me and everything would be OK," Traversy said. "Come the day before Christmas, I still hadn't heard anything back. I started panicking."

Traversy noted she got in touch with "Jennifer," who informed her staff would be there in an hour with gifts for her children.

Instead of presents, two workers arrived and began inspecting her apartment.

"They investigated me like I had done something wrong."

When they were done their inspection, Traversy said she was told no help would be available.

"(They) told me I was too well off to need anything," she explained, adding she was also informed, "I keep too nice of a home to be in need."

The inspection, and results, stunned Traversy. She said she keeps her house neat and tidy and does have some items, such as an eight-year-old TV.

"Am I supposed to go and sell my TV to buy my kids something for Christmas?"

Originally a ward of the Crown, Traversy has dealt with Children's Aid her entire life and previously acted as a foster parent.

"They've known me my whole life, I have nothing to hide."

Dawn Flegel, director of services for Family and Children's Services, said she couldn't comment on Traversy's situation, citing confidentiality rules.

She said FACS does run a limited Christmas assistance program, but only if someone has an open and active case with the agency.

Source: London Free Press

Replace CAS

January 8, 2010 permalink

Six Nations is resuming efforts to develop its own child protection system, replacing children's aid, though at a slower pace than desired by the grassroots.



Six Nations to develop own child protection system

Posted By SUSAN GAMBLE, Posted 7 hours ago

Six Nations band council has renewed a plan to ease the Children's Aid Society off the reserve.

Council this week voted to approve a working group that will look into what's needed to develop a Six Nations child protection agency.

"It's still going to be a long process," Coun. Carl Hill said Thursday.

Hill, chair of the social service committee, said that, although previous groups have researched what's needed to protect Six Nations' children without the help of the CAS, it's necessary to "go back to Square 1" on the project.

The proposed working group will include clanmothers, community members and representatives from social services agencies.

"We have to go out to the community and start with input. I don't see the CAS going anywhere too soon but this is a start for us."

That's not good news for some on the reserve who have been actively lobbying to have the CAS removed from the territory.

Some traditional Confederacy supporters and several clanmothers have advocated having the clanmothers take over their traditional responsibilities in the protection of children. A petition being that started circulating last the fall demanded that the CAS immediately get off the reserve.

"We wouldn't have anything in place if they were removed tomorrow," said Hill.

"They still need to be involved because we want to protect our kids but we have the capacity to do it ourselves."

Andrew Koster, executive director of the CAS in Brantford, agreed that Six Nations should eventually take over the responsibilities.

"Our agency is mandated to provide a service and we have to follow the protocol and ensure Six Nations follows what the government demands we do to protect children. But we expect the day will come when our expertise will be transferred to Six Nations' hands."

Currently, there are about 40 CAS workers on the reserve and almost all are aboriginal but some are not from Six Nations.

Koster said the CAS has been working toward a goal of seeing Six Nations take total responsibility for its children but government changes have stymied the process at times.

He said didn't know about band council's recommendation this week but added that he respects the process Six Nations is exploring.

"We want them to run their own child welfare system and we could be a big help to them in establishing the process."

Source: Brantford Expositor

Ottawa Delay

January 7, 2010 permalink

In the provincial offence prosecution of Ottawa children's aid by John Dunn, CAS again pulled out its favorite weapon: delay. The matter has been adjourned to February 11.



Thursday, January 07, 2010

CAS Charges - 1st Appearance - Adjourned Feb 11, 2010

Note: The Pros and Cons of this Outcome so far

  • Cons: CAS Not Held Accountable for illegal activity yet again
  • Pros: Letter gets to members at no cost to requestor (think fifty+ photo-copies of two or more page letter, stamps, envelopes etc.)

Society counsel appeared at court today for first appearance on the charges against them and their Executive Director Barbara MacKinnon under the Corporations Act. Once at court, Society counsel requested to speak to the Crown regarding the matter. The Crown invited John Dunn into the room as well in order to ensure fairness of the process to all parties.

CAS Counsel finally discussed their reason for why they are choosing to violate the provision of the Corporations Act which enables any person to request a list of the members by refusing to furnish the list. The reason stated by Society counsel was that they feel John Dunn would use the list of members to bombard them with e-mails which are unrelated to the actual purpose for the request because of the fact that he has had continuous communications with the Society on many issues.

John Dunn clarified the fact that he has sworn an affidavit to only use the list for purposes connected with the Corporation as allowed under the Act and only for that one purpose each time a request is legally made and that the members are protected by law from him abusing the use of that list.

John Dunn's ultimate purpose in requesting the list is not just to have the list itself, but for the purpose of communicating with the members so that he can ask them to call a meeting of the Board members to vote on a by-law amendment.

Since this is, and always has been John Dunn's intended and expressed purpose for requesting the list of the Society's members as opposed to just prosecuting the Society for violating the Act, regardless of how much John Dunn feels the Society should be prosecuted for this violation of the Act, a long discussion was held for the purpose of letting Society counsel go back to his client (the Society) for the purpose of obtaining instruction as to whether they will again resolve the matter as was done for the similar request in February of 2007.

In that matter, the resolution of the problem was to have the Crown receive the list of members from the Society in the form of pre-printed, postage-paid envelopes with the addresses of all members printed on them, and for John Dunn to send his letter of advocacy to the members.

The letter of advocacy would be sent to the members in the hope of having them agree to request the Board of Directors to call a meeting of the members as allowed under section 295 of the Corporations Act, for the purpose of having them vote on amending the Society's By-Laws to create a new class of members, other than the existing regular and honorary memberships, that would include former wards of that Society, regardless of where they live, so that they can have a legally protected voice in the affairs of the Society since they are the people who lived under it as children and would have an interest in bringing changes to that Society's policies and practices.

The Society's Counsel requested an adjournment of approximately one month to which John Dunn agreed, setting the next appearance at court for the matter to be spoken to as February 11, 2010, 1:30pm in Court room 2010.

Posted by afterfostercare at 3:33 PM

Source: Foster Care News

Arrested for Education

January 7, 2010 permalink

A homeschooling family in New York state has been arrested. They did not have the right approvals on official forms. A news story and cleverly headlined commentary by William N Grigg are enclosed.

When parents tell others of their homeschooling, the most common response is some question relating to the required approval from authorities. Several generations of public education have fostered the attitude that schools, not parents, are primarily responsible for the education of children. It's not just holier-than-thou bureaucrats.



Richard Cressy
Richard Cressy
Margie Cressy
Margie Cressy

Parents arrested for failing to register home-schooled kids

January 04, 2010 3:33 PM, Marci Natale / Michelle Kim

FONDA -- A Montgomery County couple has been arrested on child endangerment charges for failing to register their children with the school district as they were home-schooled, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said Monday.

Richard Cressy, 47, and Margie Cressy, 41, both of the town of Glen, never registered their four children or their home-schooling curriculum with the local school district, said the Sheriff's Office.

The Superintendent of the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District, Richard Hoffman, confirmed the four children, ranging in age from 8 to 14, had not been registered with the school district for the last seven years.

"From what I can gather, it sounds like there was education going on, so I don't know if they really slipped through the cracks," Hoffman said, "[but] they didn't fulfill their legal responsibility to file with the school district to be home-schooled."

Under state law, parents who choose to home school their children must register their curriculum with the local school district superintendent. The Cressys never submitted one in the seven years they lived in the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, which began investigating the parents after receiving an anonymous tip.

The Cressys were issued appearance tickets to appear in the Town of Glen Court on Jan. 26. The case has been turned over to the Montgomery County District Attorney and the Child Protective Unit.

Hoffman said the Cressys have since submitted a home-schooling curriculum, which he has approved.

Source: WRGB

January 5, 2010

All Your Kids Are Belong to Us

Posted by William Grigg on January 5, 2010 11:53 PM

Richard and Margie Cressy, homeschooling parents of four children who live in Glenn, New York, were assaulted and kidnapped by local tax-feeders for the supposed crime of educating their children at home without receiving the required benediction from the local high priest of the educrat cult.

That’s how this story should be reported. The court stenographers for Leviathan’s regional appendage described those events as follows:

“A Montgomery County couple has been arrested on child endangerment charges for failing to register their children with the school district as they were home-schooled, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.”

Under the pernicious doctrine of parens patriae, the default assumption is that children belong to the State. Under that scheme parents (whether biological or adopted) are granted the highly conditional privilege of feeding, housing, and otherwise caring for children unless and until the State claims them as its own.

In the story broadcast by WRGB, Albany’s ABC affiliate, the parents are treated as entirely incidental to the matter of educating their own offspring. The epicene newsreader exudes incredulous disapproval as he observes that the Cresys “failed to register” their children with the school district seven years ago.

“How was this allowed to happen? Who should be held accountable?” demands the anchorperson, handing the baton to a correspondent who asks the local education commissar if these children “fell through the cracks.” The “news” clip is entitled “Homeschooled or Forgotten?” — conveying the message that children who are raised, educated, and cared for by parents without the State’s blessing are neglected by definition.

In classic totalitarian police state fashion, the Cressys were arrested on the basis of an anonymous tip.

“So who should be held accountable?” the correspondent-cum-prosecutor asks an unidentified police officer near the end of the clip.

“Well, the parents,” replies the officer, a tax-feeder of ample carriage. “It’s not the school’s fault; the schools are doing the right thing trying to get the parents to file the proper paperwork, which they have now.”

The “law” requires that certain forms be filled out and disfigured with specific official signatures. No actual crime was committed here, of course, but like the Vogons who populate Douglas Adams’s neo-Swiftian sci-fi novels — an interstellar race of intellectually torpid, morbidly obese bureaucrats — the county mis-education establishment and its enforcers were willing to kill (if “necessary”) two parents and steal their children because the “necessary” paperwork hadn’t been filled out.

Source: Lew Rockwell

No School

Foster Death

January 7, 2010 permalink

A nameless foster boy has died in northern Manitoba. If this case comes up again without a name, we will refer to this boy as Iskotew.



2nd body found in house fire rubble

11-year-old boy reported missing Monday may have been in the house

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 | 9:03 PM CT, CBC News

RCMP remained at the scene of a fatal fire in Shamattawa on Wednesday. The home burned down on Saturday, but human remains weren't discovered until Tuesday. (CBC)

The remains of a second person have been found in the rubble of a weekend house fire in Shamattawa, a remote First Nations community in northern Manitoba.

A search through the debris will continue Wednesday but there are no reports of missing persons in the community just south of Hudson Bay, the RCMP said. A house-to-house search was being conducted in hopes of identifying who the second person is.

Shamattawa map
The remains of two people have been found in the rubble of a house fire on the Shamattawa First Nation in northern Manitoba. (CBC)

A body was found in the rubble Tuesday. An autopsy has yet to be performed but RCMP suspect it is that of an 11-year-old boy reported missing on Monday.

An autopsy to identify the remains of the second body is also being arranged, but Sgt. Line Karpish admitted it will be a challenge.

"It's quite difficult to identify the body with no starting point. The body is burned beyond recognition," she said.

"Either dental records or DNA will be used."

The fire, which destroyed the home, broke out at about 4 a.m. on Jan. 2, the RCMP said. Initially it was believed nobody was in the residence but on the evening of Jan. 4, the RCMP were notified by a band councillor about the 11-year-old, who had been staying at the home with his grandparents.

Other recent fire deaths on Manitoba First Nations

  • March 2008: Three boys aged three, four and five and their uncle, 57, are killed in a fire on Pukatawagan.
  • November 2008: Two men, aged 38 and 62, die in a fire on Sagkeeng.
  • February 2009: A nine-year-old girl dies in a house fire on Sandy Bay.
  • May 2009: A five-year-old boy dies in a house fire on Sandy Bay.
  • Jan. 1, 2010: A man, believed to be 26 years old, dies in a fire on God's Lake Narrows.

The RCMP along with local band constables and councillors tried to find the boy in the community but were unsuccessful. RCMP officers and representatives from the Manitoba Office of the Fire Commissioner then searched the rubble and found human remains on Tuesday.

They continued to search through the rubble and discovered the remains of a second person later the same day.

Searching through the rubble was a challenge because the water supply to the home was not shut off immediately after the fire. As a result, the water kept running froze over the rubble, RCMP said.

Police have erected a tent over the site in an attempt to thaw it out and further examine it.

Boy in care of Child and Family Services

Pharoah Thomas, a Pentecostal pastor in the community, said Tuesday the 11-year-old boy was in the care of the Awasis Child and Family Services (CFS) agency and was home for a family visit during the holidays.

Awasis Child and Family Services
The Awasis Child and Family Services agency office located on the Shamattawa First Nation. (

According to members of the community, the boy was staying at the house with his grandparents.

Thomas told CBC News on Tuesday that he received a phone call early Saturday from a woman saying it would be the last time he ever heard from her and asked him to watch over her son. Then she hung up.

Thomas ran to the woman's home to try to find her and said he saw smoke.

He said he kicked the door open and crawled inside, feeling around in the dark. He tried to check all the bedrooms but the heat and flames drove him back before he was able to enter the last one, he said.

He hollered but received no response, and then got out of the house.

Of 66 kids in the community in the care of CFS, all but one has been accounted for, First Nations officials said.

Child welfare officials said proper protocols were followed in the boy's case, but there may have been a miscommunication between the boy's foster home and his grandparents.

"There's no evidence that the standards were not followed as far as looking for a child that may be missing that is in care," said George Muswagon, acting head of the Awasis CFS.

"When the children are returned to their parents for visits, the expectation is that the parents monitor [them] as anybody would, as far as coming in on time, having a place to sleep," he said.

No response from firefighters

When officers from the Shamattawa RCMP detachment arrived at the burning house, they attempted to contact the local volunteer fire department without success, the RCMP's Karpish said on Tuesday.

Shamattawa Fire Department
No one from the Shamattawa Fire Department could be reached when the house fire was discovered, the RCMP said. (

She said she didn't know why there was no response from fire crews and deferred comment on the matter to band officials.

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief David Harper said on Wednesday that he is also waiting to find out why local firefighters didn't respond. The organization Harper leads represents most First Nations communities in northern Manitoba.

Band council Chief Jeff Napoakesik refused to comment on Tuesday but confirmed the community does have a fire chief. Napoakesik didn't identify him.

However, Curtis Smith, who heads the Manitoba Association of Native Firefighters, said fire response in remote communities can be a hit-and-miss venture.

He said that Shamattawa has a fire truck and that a few of the community's volunteer firefighters attended training sessions in Winnipeg last summer.

Smith said he wasn't sure what emergency communication infrastructure the community has.

On Sunday, the day after the blaze, RCMP officers located the owners of the destroyed home at a relative's house in the community. They were safe, and they gave no indication that anyone else might have been in the burned house, Karpish said.

"We were told there was no reason for anyone else to be in the house — there shouldn't have been anyone in the house," Karpish said.

RCMP initially did not call in fire officials because the fire wasn't deemed suspicious in any way. It wasn't until Monday that officers were told about the missing boy, and Karpish said that triggered an immediate call to the provincial fire commissioner's office.

With files from The Canadian Press

Source: CBC

Addendum: A later CBC report names the dead boy as Edward Redhead. He becomes the first casualty of 2010 on our list of dead foster children.

Airport Kiddie Porn

January 5, 2010 permalink

New body scanners for enhanced airport security cannot be used for travelers, or terrorists, under the age of 18, that would violate child pornography laws.



New scanners break child porn laws

Alan Travis, home affairs editor,, Monday 4 January 2010 22.14 GMT

Airport body scanner
A 12-month trial at Manchester airport of full body scanners only went ahead last month after under-18s were exempted. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

The rapid introduction of full body scanners at British airports threatens to breach child protection laws which ban the creation of indecent images of children, the Guardian has learned.

Privacy campaigners claim the images created by the machines are so graphic they amount to "virtual strip-searching" and have called for safeguards to protect the privacy of passengers involved.

Ministers now face having to exempt under 18s from the scans or face the delays of introducing new legislation to ensure airport security staff do not commit offences under child pornography laws.

They also face demands from civil liberties groups for safeguards to ensure that images from the £80,000 scanners, including those of celebrities, do not end up on the internet. The Department for Transport confirmed that the "child porn" problem was among the "legal and operational issues" now under discussion in Whitehall after Gordon Brown's announcement on Sunday that he wanted to see their "gradual" introduction at British airports.

A 12-month trial at Manchester airport of scanners which reveal naked images of passengers including their genitalia and breast enlargements, only went ahead last month after under-18s were exempted.

The decision followed a warning from Terri Dowty, of Action for Rights of Children, that the scanners could breach the Protection of Children Act 1978, under which it is illegal to create an indecent image or a "pseudo-image" of a child.

Dowty told the Guardian she raised concerns with the Metropolitan police five years ago over plans to use similar scanners in an anti-knife campaign, and when the Department for Transport began a similar trial in 2006 on the Heathrow Express rail service from Paddington station.

"They do not have the legal power to use full body scanners in this way," said Dowty, adding there was an exemption in the 1978 law to cover the "prevention and detection of crime" but the purpose had to be more specific than the "trawling exercise" now being considered.

A Manchester airport spokesman said their trial had started in December, but only with passengers over 18 until the legal situation with children was clarified. So far 500 people have taken part on a voluntary basis with positive feedback from nearly all those involved.

Passengers also pass through a metal detector before they can board their plane. Airport officials say the scanner image is only seen by a single security officer in a remote location before it is deleted.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We understand the concerns expressed about privacy in relation to the deployment of body scanners. It is vital staff are properly trained and we are developing a code of practice to ensure these concerns are properly taken into account. Existing safeguards also mean those operating scanners are separated from the device, so unable to see the person to whom the image relates, and these anonymous images are deleted immediately."

But Shami Chakrabarti, of Liberty, had concerns over the "instant" introduction of scanners: "Where are the government assurances that electronic strip-searching is to be used in a lawful and proportionate and sensitive manner based on rational criteria rather than racial or religious bias?" she said.

Her concerns were echoed by Simon Davies of Privacy International who said he was sceptical of the privacy safeguards being used in the United States. Although the American system insists on the deletion of the images, he believed scans of celebrities or of people with unusual or freakish body profiles would prove an "irresistible pull" for some employees.

The disclosures came as Downing Street insisted British intelligence information that the Detroit plane suspect tried to contact radical Islamists while a student in London was passed on to the US.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's name was included in a dossier of people believed to have made attempts to deal with extremists, but he was not singled out as a particular risk, Brown's spokesman said.

President Barack Obama has criticised US intelligence agencies for failing to piece together information about the 23-year-old that should have stopped him boarding the flight.

Brown's spokesman said "There was security information about this individual's activities and that was shared with the US authorities."

Source: Guardian (UK)

Addendum The best commentary yet.



airport scanner cartoon

airport scanner

Support for Devon

January 5, 2010 permalink

There will be another rally in support of Devon Sweeney [1] [2] in Hamilton on Wednesday, January 13.



I am just letting people that Child Assist Services will be out protesting in front of the Family Court at 55 Main St West Hamilton, ON on January 13, 2010 in support of Devon and his family. The Hamilton Children's Aid Society is trying to get an additional 6 months involvement with the family. Stay tuned for rally times and updates!! I wonder what they are up to now?

Source: Mary Janiga blog for January 4, 2010

Hamilton Family Courthouse
Hamilton Family Courthouse
55 Main Street West

Addendum: The time of the rally has been announced.



Update on the rally. Family Court starts for Devon and his family on January 13, 2010 at 9:30am so we will be there early by 8:30am, with our signs and Tim Hortons coffee. I have already had a few phone calls and emails of support to attend our rally on January 13, 2010.

Source: Mary Janiga blog for January 7, 2010

Addendum: This small event was watched by the police.



Thursday, January 14, 2010

the day after...

I took the bus downtown and grabbed my coffee at Tim Horton's DD, and went over to the family court house at 55 Main St. West Hamilton, ON. I was greeted by a few friends and the parents of Devon that were there for their son and fighting against the Hamilton Childrens Aid Society. Affidavits were served, duty counsel lawyers fighting for control over one parent remaining on the case. There was a police presence on site even though we did not carry signs just peaceful quiet assembly on the front steps of the court house.

As to be expected the court case was remanded until March 22, 2010 at 9:30am. This will give the lawyers on all sides to respond to affidavits and paperwork that was served on them. This will give us ample time as well to plan our next peaceful assembly protest on March 22, 2010 as well so stay tuned for another RALLY time and date.

This date also coincides with our 6th year anniversary when our children were forceably removed from our care on March 24, 2005. 6 years is a very long time. The children have grown and time has been lost with years passing by.

Posted by Advocate at 8:33 AM

Source: Mary Janiga blog for January 14, 2010

Help for Runaway

January 5, 2010 permalink

John Dunn asks friends of Amanda Marie Koetter to get in touch with him so he can offer her assistance.



Monday, January 04, 2010

Ontario Foster Child Running Away - Let's Help Her

It has been reported on that a teen girl has run away from her foster home recently is being sought. I would ask that anyone who knows her to please contact us so we can learn directly from her why she has run away. If she is being abused in the home, or has a story to tell the public, she can contact us to tell it.

1-613-220-1039 or e-mail

Posted by afterfostercare at 11:40 PM

Source: Foster Care News

Baby Theft Down Under

January 4, 2010 permalink

Australia has been among the world's most secretive countries about its child protection system. Newspapers print stories about coronial inquests into the death of foster children without so much as a name for the deceased child. While the prime minister has apologized for the stolen generation, today's children are stolen at an even higher rate. A story published in Adelaide, still without names, suggests that the press is catching on to the scope of the atrocity going on under its nose. If Australian reimbursements are similar to Canada, the 26 children taken from the four mums in the article are bringing FamiliesSA a half million dollars yearly more than they pay the fosters. Nuff said.



We asked for help - but they took our kids

Article from: The Advertiser, BRYAN LITTLELY, January 05, 2010 12:01am

doll in cot for girl taken by FamiliesSA
HEARTBROKEN: One of the mothers places a doll she made in a cot for her daughter who was taken from her along with her son by FamiliesSA. Picture: CHRIS MANGAN

TRIGGER-HAPPY social workers are taking children from their homes and creating a new "stolen generation", a group of distraught mothers claim.

The four women, with 26 children between them, say what started as cries for help became the catalyst that destroyed their families.

They say care workers bullied and threatened them and coerced them to put their children into care.

In some cases, the children were ripped from the arms of their parents outside court houses and schools without any warning.

The mums also say their children are now living in situations worse than the conditions they had at home.

Some have unsupervised visits with fathers convicted of child neglect and other crimes, others are separated from siblings and children as young as three have run away from foster homes.

Recent FamiliesSA figures show that at the end of June last year, there were 2111 children under care and protection orders, an 8.6 per cent increase on the previous year's 1943.

HAVE YOU HAD DEALINGS WITH FAMILIES SA? Tell us your story in the comment box below.

There are now about 1780 children in state care, the office of Families and Communities Minister Jennifer Rankine confirmed yesterday.

The minister's office provided reasons for FamiliesSA intervention in each of the cases of the four mothers, and emphasised it was the Youth Court that assesses the department's applications and makes the protection orders. But the mums argue they face no charges of neglect and believe they are good and capable mothers who were "tricked" into handing over their children to the state when they asked for help.

The mothers say FamiliesSA social workers have been "jumpy" and "trigger-happy" since June, 2008 when 21 children were found living in squalid conditions at Parafield Gardens. Six people face child-neglect charges over that case.

All four mothers who approached The Advertiser to tell their stories say they have never been charged with any child neglect crimes.

MUM 1, a 21-year-old from the southern suburbs, has lost the neat, comfortable rental property she had secured to raise her two young children. She says FamiliesSA has not only "stolen" her children, but also her joy of being a mother. She first came to the attention of the service when she and her mother asked for help to deal with her six-week-old daughter.

"They told me that they would help me to get on my feet, that the order would only be for six weeks and I would get her back," the mum said.

"Three months after she was born, I was pregnant. The order got extended to 14 months and throughout my pregnancy they threatened to take my baby away when he was born."

Her daughter was returned to her care and she looked after both children until December, 2008, when her son, now aged three, was admitted to hospital with head injuries sustained while he was in the care of a babysitter. The mother claims her son was in the babysitter's care for just 15 minutes.

No charges were laid over the incident but both children were taken from the mother and are now in the care of their father's parents.

The father lives in the home with the children but an order states he is not to have unsupervised access to the children, the mum says.

The mother says she now lives with her parents and they would like to help her raise her children in that home. But they have only recently been allowed limited unsupervised access to the children.

She said she is required to undergo a psychological assessment before her case can progress and that the current guardians have taunted her, saying she would never get her children back because they are now accredited foster carers.

MUM 2 is a 26-year-old mother of six who was herself under the care of the state as a child.

"I was under the guardianship of the state from 11 to 18 and I learnt what I know about being a mum from FamiliesSA," said the southern suburbs mum, who is pregnant.

"When I needed help with my five-week-old twins, I had to turn to them for help . . . that's all I knew to do.

"They said I would get my boys back, but I can't see that I will get my boys back and now they have taken my other four children.

"I am pregnant and I am scared they will take my baby away, too."

The young mum said her infant twins were taken from her more than a year ago and her other four children - whom her current partner had helped care for - were placed under a protection order in November.

She said she now only has supervised visits with her children, for a few hours twice a week, while the father of the four eldest children has unsupervised access despite having being jailed for child neglect of her eldest son.

"The three eldest kids were taken from school . . . We didn't even know it was happening," the woman's partner said.

"We had our three-year-old daughter with us and they were forcibly removing our girl from my arms. I was distressed and they handcuffed me when they did it."

The mother said: "They are creating the new stolen generation.

"I just want to be a mother. I want for my children to not have to go through what I went through as a child in the care of the state."

MUM 3 lives in the northern suburbs, has 11 children, and seven of them were living with her.

In November, five children were taken from her outside the Youth Court under a protection order.

She said the children who were put into care, aged 3-11, had all tried to run away from their foster home.

These included a four year old and a five year old who had both tried to hitch-hike home. After a month in foster care, they were placed in the care of their grandmother.

The mother's lawyers wrote to the mother, saying the magistrate overseeing her case deemed the foster care home had not provided "superior care" to that which she had offered.

In May, the mother admitted in a TV interview to being a neglectful parent when she was evicted from a rental property because of the putrid environment she lived in.

This week, she told The Advertiser she had done the best she could and had asked for help in a bid to adequately provide for her children.

"This is the worst experience of my life," the mum said.

"The minister . . . needs to come out here and talk to people like me to work out what's going on."

MUM 4 is the 32-year-old Frewville mother who had seven children removed from her care on Christmas Eve. She said she handed her children to social workers on the promise they would be kept together.

She first visited the children briefly five days after they were removed and she says they are being cared for in four different homes.

Source: Adelaide Advertiser

Flu Shots! Clearance! Bargains! Last Chance!

January 4, 2010 permalink

The drug companies can't seem to get people to take enough of those H1N1 swine flu shots. France is putting millions of doses on sale at bargain prices.



Page last updated at 17:30 GMT, Sunday, 3 January 2010

France sells off surplus swine flu vaccine

H1N1 influenza vaccine
France ordered 94 million doses of swine flu vaccine

France is selling off millions of surplus swine flu vaccine doses to other countries, officials say.

They say the move was decided after health authorities found they had more than enough to deal with the outbreak.

Germany and The Netherlands announced similar sales late last year. The H1N1 virus appears to have peaked in North America and parts of Europe.

However it remains active elsewhere. More than 11,500 people worldwide are believed to have died from swine flu.

A French health ministry official told AFP on Sunday: "We started with a plan for two-dose vaccinations but since one dose is sufficient we can start to resell part of the stock."

The government bought 94 million swine flu vaccine doses - more than one for every French person - and started vaccinating in October.

Only about five million people are recorded as having been vaccinated in France so far, AFP reports.

Le Parisien newspaper quotes officials as saying Qatar had bought 300,000 doses and Egypt was negotiating to buy two million.

Last week the head of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan said it was "premature" to say that the H1N1 pandemic was over.

Source: BBC

clearance sale


Pay to See Your Kids

January 2, 2010 permalink

Canada Court Watch reports that a father was required to pay lawyers' fees before he could see his children. Does this sound like a ransom demand?

In a later posting, Canada Court Watch solicits court insiders for information on policies toward recording in the courtroom.

The initials M.S. below refer to the father of Anne.



Justice Craig Perkins, the Grinch who stole Christmas is back again keeping children from seeing their parents at Christmas

(December 18, 2009) A teen has contacted Court Watch to advise us that he is disgusted with Justice Craig Perkins because Justice Perkins refused to allow his father to ask the court for access to his younger siblings unless his father pays money owing to the mother's lawyers. This is very similar to the kind of treatment that Justice Craig Perkins did to the M.S. family in the Barrie, Ontario courthouse a while back. Justice Perkins also ordered that siblings could not see each other.

The Attorney General always claims that child support and access are two separate issues when it comes to mothers being paid child support, but when it comes to dads having access to their children, they must pay their legal fees first.

All judges who are shown by their deeds to be a Grinch should be tossed off the bench.

To you Justice Craig Perkins, we know you read this website, you have told us so yourself. You should read and remind yourself of the Canadian Charter where it says, "Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:" In the opinion of many Canadians your judgements in your court are violating not only God's rules but violating the very Rule of Law in Canada. The children affected will be writing to you to let you know what you have done to them and their families and they will share their letters so that all Canadians can see what is going on in our family courts today. One day God will be judging you.

Public participation invited

(Dec 23, 2009) A while back, an ethical Ontario judge secretly passed a copy of the Practice Direction of former Ontario Chief Justice Howland to Court Watch indicating that there were efforts being made by many within the justice system in Ontario to keep this document from being seen by the public. The judge had to remain anonymous because of potential harassment from powerful forces within the justice system. This purpose of keeping this document hidden from the public of course was to prevent the public from being properly informed about their rights under the Courts of Justice Act to record their own court hearings so that court staff and judges could continue to harass and intimidate the people of Ontario and to prevent any record of what was being said in court to exist which may catch court workers altering transcripts. Other internal government documents have been uncovered by Court Watch which would appear to indicate that there continues to be a deliberate attempt by persons within the Attorney General's office of Ontario to misinform the public which is resulting in the citizens of Ontario being harassed, intimidated and threatened by judges and court workers over the legal use of recording devices in our courts. There have been numerous requests to have court signs changed so that they properly inform the public of their rights under the law.

Court Watch is requesting input from any member of the public who has had issued of recording in the courts to contact us with your story. An investigative committee has been established at Canada Court Watch which is gathering evidence regarding the issue of recording in the courts and would like to hear from members of the public. Court officials, present or past, who have insider knowledge about this issue and who would also like to contribute to this effort are invited to contact Court Watch at

Source: Canada Court Watch, December 2009

Law Against Nature

January 2, 2010 permalink

Seven-year-old Isabella is at the center of a custody dispute. Her mother Lisa Miller has left her spouse and claims sole custody. The courts have ruled that the ex is entitled to visitation with the child, but Miller refuses to comply with the court, blocking her ex from seeing Isabella.

Up to this point, it is a totally routine case, repeated thousands of times in family court. The usual outcome is that the courts do little to enforce visitation, but compel dad to pay child support to the defiant mother while the child grows up fatherless. But in this case, the ex-spouse is another woman, Janet Jenkins. Janet has no biological connection to the child, her only claim comes from the law; Miller and Jenkins were joined in a Vermont civil union in 2000. In direct defiance of nature, the law treats Jenkins as co-parent of Isabella. Courts are going to be wasting a lot of time on cases like this until the law recognizes a fact of nature: two people of the same sex cannot produce a child.



7:26 p.m. Friday, January 1, 2010

Va. woman fails to give up child to ex-partner

By BEN NUCKOLS, The Associated Press

A woman at the center of a complex dispute with her former lesbian partner defied a court order to give up custody of her 7-year-old daughter Friday, opening the door to possible criminal charges.

Lisa Miller
FILE - In this April 17, 2008 file photo, Lisa Miller answers questions about her custody battle during a news conference immediately following arguments for her case before the court at the State Capitol in Richmond, Va. The birth mother of a 7-year-old Virginia girl must transfer custody of the child to the woman's former lesbian partner, a Vermont judge has ruled. Vermont Family Court Judge William Cohen ordered Lisa Miller ofWinchester, Va., to turn over daughter Isabella to Janet Jenkins of Fair Haven at 1 p.m. EST Friday Jan. 1, 2010 at the Virginia home of Jenkins' parents. (AP Photo/Lisa Billings, File)
Janet Jenkins
FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2006, file photo, Janet Jenkins of Fair Haven, Vt., appears in Vermont Family Court in Rutland, Vt. The birth mother of a 7-year-old Virginia girl must transfer custody of the child to the woman's former lesbian partner, a Vermont judge has ruled. Vermont Family Court Judge William Cohen ordered Lisa Miller of Winchester, Va., to turn over daughter Isabella to Jenkins at 1 p.m. Friday Jan. 1, 2010 at the Virginia home of Jenkins' parents. Miller and Jenkins were joined in a Vermont civil union in 2000. Isabella was born to Miller through artificial insemination in 2002. The couple broke up in 2003, and Miller moved to Virginia, renounced homosexuality and became an evangelical Christian. (AP Photo/Rutland Herald, Vyto Starinskas, File)

A Vermont judge had ordered Lisa Miller to turn over daughter Isabella to Janet Jenkins at 1 p.m. Friday at the Falls Church, Va., home of Jenkins' parents. Miller did not show up with the girl, according to Fairfax County, Va., police and Jenkins' Vermont-based attorney.

"She's very disappointed, obviously," said Sarah Star, Jenkins' lawyer. "She's very concerned about Isabella and asks that if anybody sees Isabella, that they please contact the authorities."

The Jenkins family called police after Miller failed to show. A detective interviewed the family and determined that Fairfax County authorities would not be investigating the girl's whereabouts because of jurisdictional concerns, said Officer Tawny Wright, a police spokeswoman.

Star said she had also contacted authorities in Rutland County, Vt., where Jenkins lives, and Bedford County, Va., where Miller was living the last time Jenkins knew her whereabouts. Wright said it would be up to authorities in those counties to decide whether to investigate.

If police believe a crime has been committed, they would obtain a criminal warrant charging Miller with parental abduction. For the time being, the case remains a civil matter.

Miller and Jenkins were joined in a Vermont civil union in 2000. Isabella was born to Miller through artificial insemination in 2002. The couple broke up in 2003, and Miller moved to Virginia, renounced homosexuality and became an evangelical Christian.

When Vermont Family Court Judge William Cohen dissolved the couple's civil union, he awarded custody to Miller but granted liberal visitation rights to Jenkins.

The supreme courts of Virginia and Vermont ruled in favor of Jenkins, saying the case was the same as a custody dispute between a heterosexual couple. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear arguments on it.

Cohen awarded custody to Jenkins on Nov. 20after finding Miller in contempt of court for denying Jenkins access to the girl. The judge said the only way to ensure equal access to the child was to switch custody.

But Cohen also noted that it appeared Miller had stopped speaking to her attorneys and "disappeared" with the child.

Miller's last known address is in Forest, Va. A telephone number listed for her at that address rang unanswered Friday.

Her attorney, Mathew D. Staver, the law school dean at Liberty University, did not respond to a request through an assistant for comment.

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who has followed the case, said it was likely the Vermont judge would issue another contempt order in the wake of Friday's developments.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Addendum: The supreme court of Vermont awards custody to the non-bio-mother.



Custody upheld for Vt. lesbian non-biological mom

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- The Vermont Supreme Court says a family court was right to award custody of an 8-year-old girl to her non-biological mother in a lesbian custody case.

In a ruling released Monday, the court upheld a 2009 order giving Janet Jenkins sole custody of Isabella Miller-Jenkins. It rejected an appeal by attorneys for biological mother Lisa Miller.

Jenkins is from Fair Haven, Vt. Miller is from Forest, Va. They were joined in a civil union in Vermont in 2000. Their daughter has been the subject of a long-running legal fight.

The custody ruling may be a moot point: Miller has renounced her homosexuality, and she and her daughter failed to appear for a court-ordered custody swap in January. Their whereabouts are now unknown.

Source: Washington Post

Addendum: The US supreme court refuses to intervene.



Court refuses to step into custody dispute

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court has declined to step into a lesbian custody dispute between a woman who has renounced her homosexuality and her onetime partner.

The justices on Monday turned down an appeal from Lisa Miller, the biological mother of an 8-year-old girl. Miller wanted the court to undo a Virginia court decision allowing Janet Jenkins visitation rights with the girl.

Jenkins is from Vermont. Miller is from Virginia. They were joined in a civil union in Vermont in 2000. Their daughter has been the subject of a long-running legal fight.

Miller has renounced her homosexuality. She and her daughter did not appear for a court-ordered custody swap in January. Their whereabouts are unknown.

The case is Miller v. Jenkins, 10-177.

Source: Washington Post

Pastor Timothy D Miller has been arrested in the effort to track down the mother and child.



FBI arrests man in Vt.-Va. custody case

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The FBI has arrested a man and accused him of helping a Virginia woman involved in a custody dispute with her former partner leave the United States and move to Nicaragua.

Timothy D. Miller helped Lisa Miller and 9-year-old daughter Isabella avoid a custody order by traveling to Central America in September 2009, the FBI said.

“I know very little at this point, but I really hope that this means that Isabella is safe and well,” said Miller’s former partner, Janet Jenkins of Fair Haven. “I am looking forward to having my daughter home safe with me very soon,” she said in a statement released by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, which has provided legal help to Jenkins.

Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins were joined in a Vermont civil union in 2000. Isabella was born to Miller in 2002, and the couple broke up in 2003. Miller moved to Virginia, renounced homosexuality and became an evangelical Christian.

She was granted custody of Isabella, but Jenkins got visitation rights.

Courts in Vermont and Virginia have since ruled in favor of Jenkins on the custody issue, most recently in November 2009, when Rutland Family Court Judge William Cohen — frustrated by Miller’s refusal to obey court orders — ordered her to surrender custody to Jenkins.

Miller, of Forest, Va., and the girl failed to appear for a court-ordered custody swap Jan. 1, 2010, in which Jenkins was to get the girl.

Since then, Jenkins’s attorney has said the two are believed to have moved to El Salvador. Last year, an arrest warrant was issued for Miller, but it was sealed.

Jenkins’s attorney, Sarah Star, called the arrest the biggest development in the case so far.

Investigators said they don’t know whether Timothy and Lisa Miller are related.

Source: Washington Post

Addendum: The New York Times discovers the story and brings it up to date as of July 2012. The mother and child are hiding, probably somewhere in Nicaragua, and Kenneth Miller (no relation to Lisa) is facing criminal charges for helping them escape to Nicaragua.



Which Mother for Isabella? Civil Union Ends in an Abduction and Questions

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Lisa A. Miller and her daughter, Isabella, started their fugitive lives here in the fall of 2009, disguised in the white scarves and long blue dresses of the Mennonites who spirited them out of the United States and adopting the aliases Sarah and Lydia.

Now 10, Isabella Miller-Jenkins has spent her last three birthdays on the run, “bouncing around the barrios of Nicaragua,” as one federal agent put it, a lively blond girl and her mother trying to blend in and elude the United States marshals who have traveled to the country in pursuit.

She can now chatter in Spanish, but her time in Nicaragua has often been lonely, those who have met her say, long on prayer but isolated. She has been told that she could be wrenched from her mother if they are caught. She has also been told that the other woman she once called “Mama,” Ms. Miller’s former partner from a civil union in Vermont that she has since renounced, cannot go to heaven because she lives in sin with women.

Isabella’s tumultuous life has embodied some of America’s bitterest culture wars — a choice, as Ms. Miller said in a courtroom plea, shortly before their desperate flight, “between two diametrically opposed worldviews on parentage and family.”

Isabella was 7 when she and Ms. Miller jumped into a car in Virginia, leaving behind their belongings and a family of pet hamsters to die without food or water. Supporters drove them to Buffalo, where they took a taxi to Canada and boarded a flight to Mexico and then Central America.

Ms. Miller, 44, is wanted by the F.B.I. and Interpol for international parental kidnapping. In their underground existence in this impoverished tropical country, she and Isabella have been helped by evangelical groups who endorse her decision to flee rather than to expose Isabella to the “homosexual lifestyle” of her other legal mother, Janet Jenkins.

In a tale filled with improbables, an Amish Mennonite sect known for simple living and avoiding politics has been drawn into the high-stakes criminal case: one of its pastors is facing trial in Vermont on Aug. 7 on charges of abetting the kidnapping.

The decade-long drama touches on some of the country’s most contentious social and legal questions, including the extension of civil union and marital rights to same-sex couples and what happens, in the courts and to children, when such unions dissolve.

In this case, the passions of any divorce were multiplied by Ms. Miller’s born-again conversion to conservative Christianity and her denouncing of lesbianism as an addiction. Ms. Miller repeatedly prevented Isabella’s court-ordered visits with Ms. Jenkins until an exasperated Vermont judge said he would transfer custody.

And then Ms. Miller fled.

Her supporters say she has been persecuted because of her religion. They made “Protect Isabella” a rallying cry at a time when more gay couples are raising children, whether through adoption or, in Lisa Miller’s case, in vitro fertilization.

“I only want to see my daughter,” Ms. Jenkins said in an interview this spring in the four-bedroom house in Vermont that she and Ms. Miller bought when they dreamed of having five children. Ms. Jenkins, 47, has since married another woman and runs a day care business.

Even as Ms. Miller disappeared with Isabella, the Vermont judge granted Ms. Jenkins formal custody of the girl, as of Jan. 1, 2010. Ms. Jenkins keeps a bedroom piled with toys that Isabella is surely outgrowing.

“What’s hard for me as a parent is not knowing what she’s going through,” Ms. Jenkins said.

At the center of the story is a girl, tall for her age, whose cheerful face appears on a poster from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Based on the first extended interviews with the missionaries who harbored the pair, visits to places where Isabella and Ms. Miller stayed in Nicaragua and court documents, The New York Times has assembled the most complete picture yet of their getaway and subsequent life.

A Romance Turns Bitter

Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins met at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Falls Church, Va., in 1997. In later interviews, with supporters and her lawyers, Ms. Miller described growing up with a mentally unstable mother and dealing with her own problems of pill addictions, food disorders and self-mutilation. After a failed marriage and a suicide attempt, she said, she began seeing women.

Ms. Jenkins, when they met, had recently ended a long-term relationship with a woman.

“It was a normal courtship, and we fell in love,” Ms. Jenkins recalled. “We wanted to have a family and spend the rest of our lives together.”

They became pioneers of sorts: in 2000, soon after Vermont became the first state to offer civil unions, they traveled there to seal the relationship, adopting the joint surname Miller-Jenkins.

When Ms. Miller decided to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization, they picked a donor with Ms. Jenkins’s green eyes. Isabella Ruth Miller-Jenkins was born in Virginia on April 16, 2002. Ms. Jenkins cut the umbilical cord as her own mother, Ruth, stood in the room.

Preferring to raise a family in a state that endorsed same-sex relationships, the couple moved to southern Vermont. They bought a two-story house within walking distance of a grade school in Fair Haven, a small town known for Victorian houses and summer music on the village green.

Isabella learned to call Ms. Jenkins “Mama” and Ms. Miller “Mommy.” In these apparently happier days, Ms. Miller made an Easter card for Ms. Jenkins with Isabella’s handprints and the words, “Mamma I love you.”

Ms. Miller later said in interviews that even before the move, she was rediscovering Christianity and questioning her lesbianism. During her difficult pregnancy with Isabella, “I promised God that if he would save my baby, I would leave the homosexual lifestyle,” she said in notes she left for one of her lawyers, Rena M. Lindevaldsen, associate dean of the Liberty University Law School. Ms. Lindevaldsen describes the notes in “Only One Mommy,” New Revolution Publishers, her 2011 book on Ms. Miller and what she calls the threat of “the homosexual lifestyle.”

But such doubts were not apparent to Ms. Jenkins, who said they lived as Unitarians at the time, nor to Ms. Jenkins’s parents in Virginia, Roman Catholics who said they had warm relations with Ms. Miller and doted over their new grandchild.

Ms. Miller became pregnant again but had a miscarriage. She fell into depression, according to Ms. Jenkins; Ms. Miller later said that she was tortured by guilt. They separated in September 2003, when Isabella was 17 months old. Ms. Miller moved back to Virginia, a state that does not recognize same-sex unions or marriage.

Ms. Jenkins signed a promise to pay child support, and they agreed, she said, that she and her parents would remain in Isabella’s life.

“I wanted to preserve the close bond with Isabella,” Ms. Jenkins said, and she started visiting on weekends, making the 10-hour drive from Vermont. Their civil union was formally dissolved in 2004, and Family Court in Vermont granted custody to Ms. Miller with visiting rights for Ms. Jenkins.

But according to court records, Ms. Miller soon began to block visits, disappearing with Isabella before Ms. Jenkins arrived. As she became more vocal about her religious beliefs she moved to Lynchburg, Va., where she got a teaching job at Liberty Christian Academy, a Baptist school founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell with close ties to Liberty University, which he also founded.

Her legal case was taken up by Liberty Counsel, which is affiliated with the Liberty Law School. Her lawyers, led by the dean of the law school, Matthew D. Staver, and Ms. Lindevaldsen, invoked the federal Defense of Marriage Act to argue that Virginia’s laws had precedence and that Ms. Jenkins was not a parent.

Seeing the custody battle as an important test, national gay rights advocates including Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders have given legal aid to Ms. Jenkins.

Initially, a Virginia court sided with Ms. Miller, and for two years she did not allow Ms. Jenkins to see Isabella. She told Ms. Jenkins’s parents that they should not consider themselves Isabella’s grandparents and that the child could no longer call them “Mom-Mom” and “Pop-Pop.”

“I couldn’t believe that Lisa was saying this,” Ruth Jenkins said in an interview. “I was in shock.”

But eventually, setting what legal experts said was an important precedent, the Virginia Supreme Court determined that Vermont still had jurisdiction, regardless of Virginia’s stance on same-sex unions. The Vermont court laid out a new schedule of visits.

The Flight

In 2009, Ms. Miller’s options were shrinking.

That January, she again started blocking visits. She complained, in a court filing and to friends, that Ms. Jenkins had upset Isabella by taking a bath with the child and was undermining the girl’s conservative beliefs by reading her “Heather Has Two Mommies.” When Isabella returned from a rare visit to Vermont showing anxiety and wetting her bed, Ms. Miller blamed Ms. Jenkins.

The exasperated judge in Vermont held Ms. Miller in contempt once again but gave her another chance, specifying visits in Virginia and in Vermont. But none took place. In August, the judge warned that he would transfer custody and ordered a weekend visit for late September.

Ms. Miller’s written appeal to the judge that fall gives some idea of her thinking.

“What is at stake is the health and well-being of an intelligent, delightful, beautiful, 7-year-old Christian girl,” she wrote. Isabella “knows from her own reading of the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman,” she wrote, “that she cannot have two mommies, that when I lived the homosexual lifestyle I sinned against God, and that unless Janet accepts Christ as her personal savior, she will not go to heaven.”

Ms. Miller was also under financial pressure because her teaching position had not been renewed.

She prayed long hours, hoping God would tell her what was best for her daughter, said Linda M. Wall, a conservative activist and self-described “ex-gay” who befriended her in Virginia.

“I told Lisa that she should have a Plan B,” Ms. Wall said, but Ms. Miller, she added, seemed to resist the idea.

In fact, Ms. Miller made a secret plan, the government alleges, based partly on recovered e-mails and phone records.

One person named in the court papers is Philip Zodhiates, the owner of a conservative Christian direct-mail-list service who lives in Waynesboro, Va., and owns a beach house in Nicaragua. The other is Kenneth L. Miller, a pastor of the Beachy Amish Mennonite sect in Stuart’s Draft, Va., and manager of a family garden business five minutes from Mr. Zodhiates’s home. (He is not related to Lisa Miller.)

Mr. Zodhiates has not been indicted, but Mr. Miller’s trial is set to begin on Aug. 7. Prosecutors, citing extensive e-mail correspondence, say that he helped make arrangements for the escape to Nicaragua. If convicted, he could be sentenced to three years in prison. E-mails in the court documents suggest that Mr. Zodhiates also helped with the flight and later sent “care packages” with items like peanut butter to Lisa and Isabella.

Mr. Miller and Mr. Zodhiates declined to comment for this article.

Just how Ms. Miller got in touch with Kenneth Miller remains a central legal question, said Sarah Star, Ms. Jenkins’s lawyer in Vermont.

One of Mr. Zodhiates’s daughters, Victoria Hyden, is an administrative assistant at the Liberty Law School. But Mr. Staver, the dean, said that while he had met Mr. Zodhiates a few times, neither he nor his colleagues had ever discussed the Miller case with him or Ms. Hyden, and that they, too, were surprised when Ms. Miller disappeared.

On Sept. 21, 2009, Ms. Miller and Isabella drove south to meet Kenneth Miller, who, according to court documents and missionaries in Nicaragua, gave them Mennonite dresses and scarves for their journey. That evening they were driven to Buffalo, a trip documented by the F.B.I. in a trail of calls from two cellphones registered to Mr. Zodhiates’s company, Response Unlimited.

Just after midnight, prosecutors allege, Ms. Miller and Isabella took a taxi over the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls and were met by a Mennonite pastor who put them on a plane to Mexico City, where they continued on to El Salvador and Nicaragua.

The tickets had been bought at Kenneth Miller’s request, according to the indictment, with the purchase arranged by a fellow Mennonite pastor in Nicaragua who had his mother-in-law in the United States buy them. She was reimbursed with a money order from Virginia.

Ms. Wall said that after no one had heard from Ms. Miller for three weeks, she let herself into her house outside Lynchburg.

“Inside, it looked like she had just gone to the grocery store,” Ms. Wall recalled. The curling iron was sitting out and the closets were filled. When she discovered the dead hamster family, she said, she knew they were long gone.

“I thought, wow, congratulations Lisa Miller, you did it,” she recalled.

Embraced by Mennonites

Ms. Miller and Isabella were met at the Managua airport by Timothy D. Miller, 35, known as Timo, an ebullient pastor who was born to missionaries in Honduras and runs the Beachy Amish Mennonite outpost in a rough area of this capital city. He drove them straight to the interior town of Jinotega, in the coffee-growing hills of northern Nicaragua, he said in an interview, where they lived for two months on a farm. (Timo Miller is not related to either Kenneth or Lisa Miller.)

Isabella enjoyed the animals, but it was a rainy, foggy time of year in Jinotega and Ms. Miller felt isolated, Timo Miller said. The pair moved to Managua, to a $150-a-month one-bedroom home near the Mennonite mission.

The mother and daughter came to visit nearly every day, as Lisa helped with home schooling. Some evenings, Isabella sat on the pastor’s lap as he read to her and his own four children the American Girl books, “Little House on the Prairie” and Bible stories. “We were like family,” he recalled.

One of his daughters, RuthAnna, 9, said she and the girl she knew as Lydia used to ride bicycles in their courtyard and enjoyed giggle-filled sleepovers at each other’s homes. “We were best friends,” she said.

Mr. Miller’s wife, Joanna, said that when they went shopping together, “people would gawk over Isabella and her blond hair.”

But “the isolation is driving her and little Lydia crazy,” Timo Miller wrote of Lisa and her daughter in an e-mail to friends.

He noted that the girl’s 8th birthday was coming up on April 16, 2010, and said that she could use cheering up with a party. “She is going through a lot,” he wrote to his parents, also missionaries, who lived in the remote town of Waslala.

Timo Miller’s family and their guests made the rugged five-hour drive to Waslala, where the Mennonites have five scattered churches and a clinic among small cattle ranches and bean farms. The family of Pablo Yoder, another pastor, hosted a birthday party at their tranquil homestead with a green lawn and a pet macaw.

Isabella was feted by some 25 Mennonites with a cake, homemade ice cream and a piñata for the children. After a dinner of rice and chicken, they sang hymns in the yard, Mr. Yoder said in an interview in Waslala.

The group from Managua returned home within a day or two. But personal relations with Ms. Miller, who tends to see things “in black and white,” Timo Miller said, were getting strained. Within weeks after the party, she and her daughter moved back to Jinotega, renting a house on their own in town.

Missionaries in Jinotega, too, indicated that Ms. Miller struggled with depression.

“Lisa is very independent-minded,” said David Friesen, 45, a Canadian Mennonite in Jinotega. “She needed spiritual help,” he said, and there were issues of anger and forgiveness from her past life.

But eventually, he said, she embraced the fundamentalist faith of the Mennonites. She also showed initiative, inviting neighborhood children into her home to read them Bible stories through an interpreter.

Everything changed on April 18, 2011, a year after the birthday party, when Timo Miller, returning for a vacation in the United States with his family, was arrested at Dulles Airport and charged with aiding a kidnapping. Ms. Miller and Isabella quickly disappeared from their house in Jinotega, and there have been no reported sightings since, but federal agents believe the pair remain in Nicaragua.

In December 2011, federal prosecutors dropped the charges against Timo Miller in return for his testimony and filed charges against Kenneth Miller for what they allege was his more central role in the flight from the United States.

Up to Timo Miller’s arrest, the missionaries in Nicaragua said, they had not realized they could be prosecuted.

“We had no idea what we were getting into,” Mr. Friesen said of the decision to shelter Ms. Miller and Isabella. But he added, “We are willing to be persecuted for God’s will.”

Timothy Schrock, 46, bishop of the Mennonites in Nicaragua, originally approved Kenneth Miller’s request to help Isabella and her mother. Speaking in Waslala, where he is pastor of a remote church, he said that the “brethren,” as they call themselves, now feel under siege, their phones and e-mails presumably monitored, and some are afraid to return to American soil.

But he supported Ms. Miller’s decision to flee on religious grounds.

“As many rights as Janet may have, this child is being pushed into a situation that God has not agreed with,” Mr. Schrock said.

Ms. Lindevaldsen, the lawyer, said she knew that her former client could face jail time if caught, and that Isabella’s life could take another wrenching turn. She blames a misguided legal system.

“It’s sad that in America a woman was faced with this choice,” she said. “The court overstepped its bounds, calling someone a parent who is not a parent and turning a child over to a person who lives contrary to biblical truths.”

Ms. Jenkins said she had learned to shrug off the personal attacks and worries only about Isabella’s welfare, after years in hiding in a strange land, with all her former ties lost.

“Isabella was such a happy child,” she said. “That’s one of the things I hope has stayed the same.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 29, 2012

An earlier version of this article misidentified the name of an organization that gave legal aid to one of the women, Janet Jenkins. It is the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, not the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The article also misspelled the given name of one of the lawyers for the other woman, Lisa A. Miller. He is Mathew D. Staver, not Matthew.

Source: New York Times

On August 14, 2012 a jury found Kenneth Miller guilty of aiding and abetting in an international kidnapping.

Mothers Jailed

January 2, 2010 permalink

Two unnamed Australian sisters, both mothers of pre-school children, are staying in jail to keep their children out of the hands of welfare authorities. Bail was refused because of their "extremely serious offence".



Jailed mothers refuse to help find their children


POLICE are concerned about the welfare of two children allegedly kidnapped by their mothers from their foster carer more than two months ago.

A three-year-old boy and a five-year-old girl are believed to be moving around NSW and Queensland and their mothers, who are refusing to help police find them, have been ordered to stay in prison.

The children were removed from the women, believed to be sisters, in August 2008 after police were called to their home in Waterloo after an alleged drug-related assault. The older woman, 25, is believed to be an actress who has starred in an Australian feature film.

In documents tendered to Parramatta Bail Court yesterday police said that when they arrived at the women's home they found a blood trail leading to the front door, and found drugs, a knife and a bullet shell in the flat.

The children were removed into the care of welfare authorities within days and placed with a foster carer.

A Family Court order allowed the mothers supervised access but police said that in October one of them told the foster carer to let the children go to a children's birthday party.

When the children had not returned by 9pm, their carer raised the alarm. Police later found the mothers had taken the children by plane from Sydney to Port Macquarie that evening. Police and the Department of Community Services checked various addresses but have so far failed to find the children.

The girl's mother, 21, was found by police on New Year's Eve after allegedly taking amphethamines, and was charged with kidnapping. Police allege the woman admitted knowledge of the children's whereabouts when she told officers not to worry about them because they ''were well and being looked after''.

She swore repeatedly yesterday when Registrar Ross Lawton refused her bail, saying it was an ''extremely serious offence'' and there was a risk she would not return to court if granted bail. The other woman was charged last month with kidnapping her son.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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